Boomers Tend To Shop Green, Volunteer

by | Sep 21, 2008

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Though Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are often called the “Me Generation,” according to a report from Focalyst they are increasingly focused on both donating their time to causes they believe in and patronizing merchants that promote the environment, Marketing Charts reports.

Nearly 80% of US Boomers (59 million) are willing to volunteer their time for a good cause and 70% feel they have a responsibility to make the world a better place, the “Sharing Their Good Fortune: Boomers and Giving Back” study found.

Among Boomers, 18 million (25%) have actually volunteered their time to a charitable organization in the past year (”Volunteer Boomers”) and 20% of the 58 million employed Boomers (12 million) say they will volunteer part-time after they retire.

Volunteer Boomers are strongly predisposed to socially conscious shopping attitudes and are significantly more likely to shop green, with 60% saying they buy brands that are environmentally safe.

This group also is especially more likely to make purchase decisions that are consistent with giving back to the community, such as supporting local retailers (88%), buying from companies that give back to their communities (67%), and choosing locally produced goods (54%). They are more savvy shoppers than non-volunteers, researching products and services (59%), shopping for better quality (57%), and buying organic (38%).


About 17% of Boomers (12 million) both buy from companies that give back and actively volunteer. According to Focalyst, this group of “super-philanthropic” Boomers comprises socially responsible shoppers who have greater financial resources and stronger attitudes toward the greater good.

Only a small portion of Boomers (6 million) actively give back with time but do not seek to make purchases from companies that claim to support specific causes. This behavior could reflect their skepticism with specific marketing campaigns, Focalyst said.

Additional findings:

  • Though they have the desire to give back in time, many Boomers say it is easier to contribute more passively by purchasing products from companies that will contribute a portion of the profits to charity.
  • Boomers who volunteer are more likely to have stronger values toward the greater good and their legacy and are more likely to have life values that are “virtuous” or “utopian,” as defined by Focalyst.
  • The act of volunteering is not linked to age alone. Boomers are just as likely to donate time to a cause as are those older than they are (Matures born 1945 and prior).
  • With many Boomers working beyond retirement age, they are likely to both work and volunteer into their sixties and beyond.

Demographic factors also point to the fact that Volunteer Boomers are more likely to be women than men (10 million women in the past year vs. 8 million men), to be stay-at-home mothers with children still living at home, and to get involved with local causes.

Volunteer Boomers also are more likely to have higher household incomes, though those with lower incomes have similar attitudes about their greater responsibility.

About the research: Focalyst explored volunteer attitudes and behaviors among a nationally representative sample of over 17,000 Boomers.

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