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Five Common Misconceptions About Senior Marketing

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

Some consider them a “lost cause” and label them too old, too disabled, too unaware, or too frugal. While those nicknames may apply in some cases, it’s amazing how misguided those perceptions are when you examine the reality of today’s buying public despite a bitter economy, a housing crisis, and unemployment at its worst in decades.

Suddenly, older people look very attractive to some, if not all, marketers because of some important facts:

Misconception No. # 1: older people are a minority

Done: 76 million baby boomers in the United States are now turning 65, a fact that is putting the elderly in the majority. According to a February 6, 2011 New York Times Article on the business of aging, these new older adults are different from previous generations, anticipating a life expectancy that is longer than in the past, a period of at least another twenty years. Worldwide, the segment of the population aged 65 and over will more than double, from 523 million to 1.5 billion by 2050, according to United Nations estimates. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there are more women than men nationwide, with the Northeast leading that distinction, as well as having the highest percentage of people in the age group 65 and over. . Although more people will postpone their retirement in the interest of maintaining a sustainable income, those who choose to retire will have a lot of time on their hands for which the only salvation is to keep busy. And extrapolating the truth from reality, keeping busy means seniors will include one of the country’s largest markets – too expansive to ignore and certainly too available to discount.

Misconception No. # 2: Seniors are too old, have technology problems, and have a computer phobia

Done: With “retired” defined as someone who has reached old age (however, to this writer’s amusement, still described as “old” in some dictionaries), most baby boomers will be a relatively young group (65 years old). 74) through 2034. It’s a good twenty years in which marketers can benefit. Baby boomers are not wall flowers daunted by the prospect of going out dancing. In fact, these are our forward thinking, mature and seasoned device experts, movers and shakers who have been great participants, if not initiators, of today’s technologically advanced lifestyle for most of its existence. Hardly inclined to leave society, these are connected individuals aware of the ramifications of social media and Google rankings, alternately engaged and irritated by the entourage of political missteps and world events, and swayed by the consequences of losing the employment and foreclosure. These are very conscious consumers of the most formidable stature.

Misconception No. # 3: older people are too “cheap” to spend money

Done: Older people are the biggest spenders today. According to estimates based on a consumer spending survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 the households of baby boomers in the United States spent about $ 2.6 billion. That’s 45% more year-over-year as measured by a Gallup poll cited on June 10, 2010. New York Times Catherine Rampell’s article entitled “Who Spends Again? The Rich and the Old.”

While it is true that older people tend to be more conservative in their tastes and frugal in their choices, it is also true that their spending habits are greatly affected by the wants and needs of those who are important to them: their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. grandchildren. If, for example, the son of an elderly man has lost his job and can no longer support his family at the level of comfort he once enjoyed, let alone grandmother watching them suffer. Many older Americans have welcomed the younger generations into their homes and are now spending lavishly to keep them fat and happy, so to speak.

But there is another reason that older people have relaxed tight kidneys in their often oversized nest eggs. Recent stock market gains have a psychological impact on the mindset of investment retirees, even if those investments are based on bonds or annuities, leading them to conclude that they are richer. Add this sentiment to the logic that older people may feel like life is too short and now is the time to splurge before it’s too late. Fortified by years of moderately successful finances now enhanced by the feeble fruits of social security benefits, some of these seniors enjoy rich means and plan to experience the luxuries of life before time runs out.

What does that mean? It means vacations, cruises, luxury vehicles, and home entertainment shopping. It means buying clothes, jewelry, and gifts for children. It means spending on hair and nails and plastic surgery and a new smile. It means going out to dinner and enjoying a night of pleasure. All on a regular basis. Once they start, it is difficult to stop.

Misconception No. # 4: older people have no brand loyalty

Done: Older people demonstrate much more brand loyalty than members of today’s younger generation who tend to be fickle, going from one thing to another in the blink of an eye. While fashions, trends and social influences draw young people from one product to another, older people are seen as more valuable as customers, according to a report on September 26, 2007. New York Times Matt Richtel’s article on “Sticky Old People”. A senior will take the time to evaluate a decision carefully and stick to that commitment longer as a general rule of thumb.

Although older people have a lifetime of experience to draw from, a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of subjects, and valuable skills representing a variety of careers, such wisdom is viewed with some reserve in the rapidly changing world. from today. First, old age tends to cause forgetfulness and memory loss. Second, when it comes to knowledge availability, Google provides answers to anything and everything in a matter of milliseconds, hardly a level playing field for an older person (or anyone else), regardless of how smart or skilled they may be. . Finally, the skills that older people have mastered tend to be for things that we no longer need or use, like yesterday’s engines or outdated entertainment hardware, for example, now replaced by wireless computing technology of the most advanced level. Even if older people have kept up with all the technological advances over the years, their motivation to keep abreast of such changes after they retire greatly diminishes, as does their retention capacity. A younger person has the upper hand here.

Misconception No. 5: Seniors will not buy anything unless there is a discount

Done: If there is something that older people totally dominate, it is the health market, with or without a discount. No one buys more health-related products than seniors, making them easily the most valuable market for businesses in that industry, without exception. Old age, by nature, brings difficulties with balance, dexterity, autonomy and mobility, as well as maintenance and sensory retention. Some of these conditions promote social withdrawal. Industries that are concerned with protecting older people from physical and psychological disappearance can only hope to reap the rewards of their manufacturing and marketing acumen. However, it is clear that the prospect of investing heavily in the development of products that can serve these purposes is causing concern in companies that are ready to profit. The reason for this is that the senior market is still unproven territory, as it has not proven that it will buy new technologies that preserve health and well-being even if there is a dire need. By contrast, companies like Ford Motor, which have a hands-free parallel parking system that alleviates the need to strain the neck (a common aging problem), along with blind spot detection and a voice-activated audio system. , they console themselves in their ability to market to a broad-based market, not just targeting the mysterious older adults for the success of the product.

During the writing of this article, I happened to be contacted by a local “Aging in Place” nonprofit organization who claimed they needed a marketing plan to facilitate an increase in paid membership. Aging in place is a concept used by national groups of older people to describe efforts to help older adults stay in their own homes as long as possible, while receiving assistance from a variety of outside services, if necessary, to find solutions to any inconvenience or problem faced. This could include help with medical, social, financial, or nutritional needs, to name a few.

At the same time, many of the real estate development companies across the country have embraced the idea of ​​building appropriate residential or retirement centers for seniors that incorporate new technologies to monitor the health and safety of their residents, as well such as social, gastronomic activities, entertainment, fitness and physiotherapy areas, are a safe bet for senior marketing.

Certainly any scenario makes sense as long as all marketers address the age-old question: what is the best way to reach older people? Or, instead, the question is how to reach the adult children of the elderly? While the options remain the same as when trying to reach the full market, all of which are expensive when an unknown response rate is always possible, there are ways to target seniors with intuitive reasoning. Think dated if you want a larger demographic; Think out of the box to reach the newer postwar older “youth” or your adult children. Among a whole series of strategies, old-fashioned means advertising in the newspaper; on conservative radio shows; o sponsorship marketing and live presentations with brochures at fairs and events for seniors in community or religious centers. Creative marketing can mean using the Internet to reach the most tech-savvy seniors through an email campaign; or sponsored ads to accompany appropriate Google searches, just to touch the tip of the iceberg of possibilities. Probably the safest route for anyone of legal age is through their postal address, the lists of which can be purchased through age selection plus a range of other parameters that may be appropriate.

And as with any marketing, one effort may not be enough. A diversified approach, as well as multiple attempts, is usually what means a more successful result, being vigilant to measure the response throughout each step of the process. But keep one thing in mind. Older people have become victims of scams more often than we want to admit. While some may still be helpless and vulnerable, others have grown even more cautious, wary of every marketing offer they come across.

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