Five common misconceptions about marketing to seniors

With all the possible target markets out there, why would anyone want to market to seniors anyway?

Thought by some as a “lost cause”, they are labeled as too old, too disabled, too forgotten or too sparse. While these monikers may apply in some cases, it is astonishing how wrong these perceptions are when examining the reality of today’s buyer audience despite a booming economy, a real estate crisis and unemployment at its worst levels in decades.

Suddenly, seniors might look appealing to some, if not all, marketers because of a few major facts:

Misunderstanding # 1: The elderly are in the minority

Facts: 76 million baby boomers in the United States are now turning 65, a fact that puts the elderly in the majority. According to a February 6, 2011 The New York Times the article on the business of aging, these new older people are different from previous generations and expect a life expectancy that is longer than before – a period of at least another twenty years. Worldwide, the segment of the population 65 years and older will more than double from 523 million to 1.5 billion by the year 2050, according to the United Nations estimates. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are more women than men nationwide with the Northeast at the forefront of this distinction, as well as having the largest percentage of people in the age group 65 years and over. Although more people postpone their retirement to maintain a sustainable income, those who choose to retire will have plenty of time on their hands, the only salvation being to stay busy. And extrapolating the truth from reality, by staying busy means that the elderly will encompass one of the country’s largest markets, too expansive to ignore and certainly too accessible to reject.

Misunderstanding # 2: Older people are too old, technologically challenged and computer phobic

Facts: With “older citizens” defined as someone who has reached old age ((nonetheless for entertainment of this author, still described as “old” in some dictionaries), the majority of baby boomers will be a relatively young group (ages 65-74 ) until the year 2034. It’s a good twenty years time for marketers to take advantage. Baby boomers aren’t some wall flowers frightened by the prospect of stepping out to dance. In fact, this is our gadget-savvy, forward-thinking, mature and experienced, movements and shakes that have been major participants in, if not initiators, to today’s technologically advanced lifestyles throughout most of their existence, these are unlikely to drop out of society and these are connected individuals aware of the consequences of social media and Google rankings, alternately engaged and annoyed by the detours of political mistakes and world events and influenced by the fallout from job loss and home foreclosure. sse are very conscious consumers about the most formidable stature.

Misunderstanding # 3: Older people are too “cheap” to spend money

Facts: Seniors are today’s biggest consumers. According to estimates based on a survey of consumer spending conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approx. $ 2.6 trillion of baby boomer households in the United States. It has increased by 45% year over year, as measured by a Gallup study cited in a June 10, 2010 The New York Times article by Catherine Rampell titled “Who uses again? The rich and old.”

While it is true that the elderly tend to be more conservative in their tastes and frugal in their choices, it is also true that their consumption habits are greatly influenced by the wants and needs of those who are important to them: their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. If, for example, the son of an elderly citizen has lost his job and can no longer support his family for the comfort they once enjoyed, it was very grandmother to see them suffer. Many older Americans have welcomed the younger generations back into their homes and are now using liberally to keep them obese and happy, so to speak.

But there is another reason why seniors have relaxed the tight reins on their often extra-large nest eggs. Recent stock market gains have a psychological impact on the mindsets of retirees with investments, even though these investments are bond or annuity-based, leading them to the conclusion that they are richer. Add this feeling to the rational that seniors can feel that life is too short and that now is the time to blow up before it is too late. Enhanced by years of moderately successful economics, now enhanced by the persistent fruits of Social Security benefits, some of these seniors are enjoying significant funds and planning to experience the luxury of life before time runs out.

What does it mean? That means vacations, cruises, luxury vehicles and home entertainment purchases. This means shopping for clothes, jewelry and gifts for the kids. This means the use of hair and nails and plastic surgery and a new smile. It means eating out and going out for an evening of pleasure. All on a regular basis. Once they get started, it’s hard to stop.

Misunderstanding # 4: Older people have no brand loyalty

Facts: Seniors show brand loyalty much more than members of today’s younger generations who tend to be unstable and fly from one thing to another at the drop of a hat. While fads, trends and social influences lure youth from one product to another, seniors are considered more valuable as customers, according to a September 26, 2007 The New York Times article by Matt Richtel on “Sticky Old People.” A senior will take time to carefully consider a decision and will stick with that commitment longer as a general rule.

Although seniors have a lifetime of experience to draw on, a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of topics and valuable skills representing a variety of careers, such wisdom is seen with some reservations in today’s rapidly changing world. First, old age tends to cause forgetfulness and memory loss. Second, when it comes to knowledge availability, Google answers everything and anything in a matter of milliseconds, hardly a level playing field for a senior citizen (or anyone for that matter), no matter how smart or skilled they may be be. Finally, the skills that seniors have mastered tend to be things we no longer need or use, like yesterday’s engines or outdated entertainment hardware, for example, now replaced by wireless computing at the most advanced level. Even if seniors have followed every technological development over the years, their motivation to keep up with such changes once they are retired diminishes, as does their ability to maintain them. A younger person has their edge here.

Misunderstanding # 5: Elderly people don’t buy anything unless there is a discount

Facts: If there is one thing that seniors totally dominate, it is the health care market, discount or no discount. No one buys more health-related products than senior citizens, making them easily the most valuable market for companies in the bar-free industry. Age naturally creates difficulties with balance, dexterity, autonomy and mobility as well as sensory maintenance and retention. Some of these conditions encourage social withdrawal. The industries that take care to protect the elderly from physical and psychological death can only expect to reap the benefits of their manufacturing and marketing acumen. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the prospect of investing heavily in the development of products that can serve such purposes provokes the passion of companies willing to take advantage. The reason for this is that the senior market is not yet proven territory, as it has not shown that it will buy in new technologies that maintain health and well-being, although there is a great need for it. Rather, companies like Ford Motor, which have a hands-free, parallel parking system that eases the need to strain one’s throat (a common fall with aging) combined with a blind spot detection and a voice-activated audio system, take comfort in their ability to market to a broad based market, not only targeting the mysterious seniors of product success.

At the time of writing this article, I was randomly contacted by a local non-profit “Aging in Place” organization who claimed that they needed a marketing plan to help increase paid membership. Aging in Place is a concept used by national older groups to describe efforts to help older adults stay in their own homes for as long as possible while receiving help from a range of external services, if needed. to find solutions to disadvantages or problem faced. This may include help with medical, social, financial or nutritional needs, to name a few.

At the same time, many of the property development companies nationwide have embraced the idea that the construction of older appropriate housing or retirement centers containing new technologies to monitor residents’ health and safety, as well as social, dining, entertainment, fitness and physical therapy areas are a safe means. for senior marketing.

Determined by both scenarios, it makes sense as long as all marketers are solving the old question: what is the best way to reach senior citizens? Or is the question instead how to reach out to older children from older citizens? While the choices remain the same as when trying to reach the overall market, all of which are expensive, when an unknown response rate is always possible, there are ways to target seniors with some intuitive reasoning. Think old-fashioned if you want an older demographic; Think creatively to reach the newly induced “younger” baby boomer senior or his adult children. Among a whole range of strategies means old-fashioned advertising in the daily newspaper; on conservative talk radio programs; or sponsorship of marketing and live presentations with awards at senior fairs and events at community or religious centers. Creative marketing can mean using the Internet to reach the more tech-savvy senior through an email campaign; or sponsored ads that accompany appropriate Google searches to hardly touch the tip of the iceberg of opportunity. Probably the safest route to any age senior is through his mailing address, lists of which can be purchased through age selection plus a number of other parameters that may be appropriate.

And as with any marketing, an effort may not be enough. A diversified approach as well as multiple trials is usually what spells a more successful outcome, being wary of measuring response through every step of the process. But remember one thing. Seniors have fallen victim to scams more often than we will admit. While some may still be helplessly vulnerable, others have become even more cautious and distrustful of any marketing offer they encounter!