By now, most savvy businesses realize that there is an untapped potential customer base in the rapidly expanding boomer and senior population. The challenge is discovering and implementing marketing strategies to attract the attention, capture the loyalty and retain a relationship with this huge marketing segment.
An additional challenge is erasing some of the perceptions and misconceptions that are commonly held about seniors and Boomers in general. We are no longer living in an era where target markets can be categorized by age. The senior and boomer markets have broadened into a vast arena of client possibilities and soaring profitability.
Some perceptions and misconceptions to re-think:
It’s not worth it to pursue these “old” folks –
The first obstacle that needs to be addressed when marketing to seniors is to banish the mindset that goes along with the titles “senior citizen” or “baby boomers.” Gone are the days when age was defined by hemlines and wrinkles. In this area of successful aging, you will find grandmothers running their own successful internet operations and grandfather entrepreneurs. These “oldies” are 76 million strong and by the year 2030 one in five Americans will be 65 or older. Over the next 20 years they will spend $20 trillion on consumer goods.
They aren’t big “spenders” –
Boomers aged 56 -66 spend an average of $367 per month online according to data from “The State of Consumers and Technology: Benchmark 2011” which is more than double the amount spent by adults age 18-22 which is an average of $138. Boomer spending has increased 45% year over year according to a 2010 Gallup poll. They may be more conservative in their tastes but they spend liberally on, not only themselves, but also their extended family who may be struggling with unemployment while raising their own families. Seniors are now enjoying the fruits of their labors and are seeking comfort and luxury products, which translates into vacations, cruises, home entertainment products, apparel, jewelry and gifts.
They don’t understand the new technology –
This particular generation buys more Apple products (41%) than any other age group. They not only can afford them, they can understand them. They have Facebook accounts, shop online, have smart phones, blog, and own and run successful internet operations. They are gadget-savvy and are enjoying a technologically advanced lifestyle. They actively track world and local events via the internet and stay connected both socially and politically through this same venue. The talk at women’s garden clubs today may be more about Skyping, world and national events and internet providers than planting and pruning.
They don’t have “brand loyalty” –
Seniors and Boomers have been through fads and trends and aren’t easily lured from brand-to-brand. They have the luxury of time to research purchases and as a result, stick with their brand decisions longer. They are not only more brand loyal, they are less price sensitive than younger shoppers, but are also more demanding on quality and services. They evaluate products more on quality, packaging and ease of use. The buy-one-get-one-free doesn’t work with this demographic because they use smaller amounts of products than previously or they are limited in storage space because of downsizing.
Seniors aren’t active –
Seniors and Boomers today are more active than the previous generations. They are foregoing retirement and working longer, not only for the income, but also for the activity it affords. Even upon retirement, seniors don’t favor inactivity. They flock to the gyms, not only the physical ones, but also the new mental gyms that are coming into style. They travel around the world and around the country pursuing new adventures. They have redefined the statement that accompanies retirement and that is, “I am so busy now, that I don’t know where I found the time to work.” Grandma has taken a giant leap out of her rocking chair and is bench pressing 75 pounds while listening to her iPod and Grandpa has taken up rock climbing.
MARKET TO AND BENEFIT FROM THIS GENERATION BY:
- Allocating more advertising and promotion dollars to capture this market. Only 5% of advertising budgets have been geared toward older consumers while 80% is spent trying to reach the 18-34 year old market.
- Having multi-generational advertising literature and campaigns. Different style of music, models and messages can reach more than one generation of audiences.
- Focus on quality and service – two of the most important deciding factors in seniors’ buying choices.
- Think “active” instead of “old” when viewing the senior consumers. Changing your mindset can change the way you market.
- Diversify your product or service to accommodate this generation. Have a “senior” size product to avoid waste of the larger sizes.
Resource Extensions: Gerontological Society of America, e-newsletter Vol. 2 Number 1 2012; Five Common Misconceptions About Marketing to Seniors, Healthcare Marketing 13 Mar. 2012; Datalist marketing.com