ARC Health & Wellness Community

The Association of Retail and Consumer Professionals


By Sally Smithwick, Health & Wellness Content Contributor

Last month, we reported on the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities. This challenge is a broad effort with five pillars addressing disparities and reducing diet-related diseases by increasing healthy eating and physical activity by 2030. The Challenge asks stakeholders, which includes food companies, local governments, health care providers, retailers, academic institutions, tech companies and more, to make “bold and impactful commitments” that will collectively serve this goal.

This week we are diving into how digital solutions and strategies that support this effort should differ across generations. Understanding these differences will be key to expanding reach and engagement with your shoppers. Let’s break that down into age groups and where you will find them connecting, socializing, browsing, shopping, learning and general “hanging out” in the digital world.

Baby Boomers (Age 59 – 77 years of age)
According to Statista, “Sliver Surfers” are more likely to use platforms like Youtube (67%) and Facebook (78%), This is a generation of Americans that did not grow up with mobile devices, and the personal computer entered their world in their middle age years. Since then, technology has evolved rapidly and may not feel as intuitive to them as younger generations. Raised with television and reading newspapers, they are not as likely to be found on TikTok or in the faster pace moving world of digital socialization and short form information sharing, but they cannot be discounted as users of technology. In fact, Statista cites that 87 percent of adults ages 50-64 used the internet in 2018. Facebook groups (96% Boomers use Facebook at least once weekly) that act as micro-communities or local connections are an excellent path to reaching these adults. In addition, they are the largest followers of retailer social media profiles (55%). And remember these shoppers have spent much of their lives connecting in person, so a combination of promoting healthy eating opportunities, recipes, and deals can be coupled with in-person events that revolve around “retirement” hours and activities that open up opportunities for socializing and help with loneliness.

Generation X (43 – 58 years of age)
These adults have a little more experience with technology staring from a younger age than Baby Boomers, and they are proud to be the generation centered between no-tech to high-tech seeing their behaviors move from landlines to mobile phones, letter writing to email, TVs to computers, etc. They enjoy nostalgia! And with significant buying power, they are the second largest followers of retailer social media profiles (54%), but different from Baby Boomers, 51% also follow brands. This is the audience you want to reach through your store’s Facebook (90% use Facebook at least once a week) or Instagram page, and also consider social media collaborations with brands that support your goals.

Millennials (27 – 42 years of age)
While Millennials have been described as more skeptical consumers of content, they’ve also been described as the more altruistic shopper. Facebook and YouTube are top performing platforms within his age range, however, reports have shown that they have an average of 9.2 social media accounts, making them the largest category of multi-networkers than other generations. They are the largest followers of brands (59%), and 50% follow retailer accounts. They are also highly interested in influencers with 41% following those types of profiles. Consider influencer collaborations with this age range and remember “influencer” doesn’t always mean celebrity. When you are using digital outreach as a local tool, seek out influencers gaining traction within your local area.

Generation Z (11 – 26 years of age)
This generation has been noted as a little pickier about how they consume content, and they generally don’t want to hang out in spaces where the older folks are congregating. Facebook use drops to 36% with this age range, and 60% of TikTok users are in this age range. Eighty-three percent of teens use TikTok and 87% use Instagram. Visuals are key in these spaces! Popular culture is key! Both TikTok and Instagram have databases for popular music that you can easily add to reels, stories and videos, adding more opportunity for your content to hit in their algorithms. And TikTok and IG users love hashtags! While there is much debate over marketing unhealthy food and beverages in this arena, there’s also much opportunity to present this age group with healthy perspectives on diet that will hopefully follow them into building years of healthier diet habits, particularly via influencers, where they are the largest age range of followers.

Digital content consumption is an evolving space and staying alert to how much each generation responds to different platforms will help you frame and build community with your shoppers. Social media platforms meet varying needs for all ages that in the food world can mean sharing health and wellness interests, shopping on a budget, alerts to new products and trends or simply offer entertainment and socializing. Meet your shoppers in the digital dynamic that speaks to them, and they will “follow” your lead into building a healthy and accessible way of shopping for food.

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