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Five Common Misconceptions About Marketing to Seniors
With all the possible target markets, why would anyone want to target the elderly, anyway?
Thought of by some as a “lost cause”, they are labeled as too old, too disabled, too ignorant or too frugal. While those monikers may apply in some cases, it’s amazing how wrong those perceptions are when you examine the reality of the buying public today despite a sour economy, a real estate crisis and unemployment at its worst level in decades.
Suddenly, seniors are looking very attractive to some, if not all, marketers because of a few major facts:
Misconception #1: The elderly are in the minority
Fact: 76 million baby boomers in the United States are now 65 years old, a fact that puts the elderly in the majority. As of February 6, 2011 New York Times article on the business of aging, these new seniors are different from the 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 65 and older will more than double, from 523 million to 1.5 billion by 2050, according to United Nations estimates. The United States Census Bureau reports that there are more females than males nationwide with the Northeast in the lead for that distinction, as well as having the largest percentage of people in the age group 65 and over. no longer. Although more people are postponing 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 the reality, keeping busy means that the elderly make up one of the largest markets in the country, too expansive to ignore and certainly too available to cool down.
Misconception #2: Seniors are too old, tech-challenged and computer-phobic
Fact: With “senior citizen” defined as someone who has reached old age, (yet, to the amusement of this writer, still described as “ancient” in some dictionaries), most baby boomers will be a group relatively young (age 65-). 74) until the year 2034. It is a good twenty years of time in which marketers can benefit. Baby boomers are not some wallflowers intimidated by the prospect of going out dancing. Indeed, these are our gadget-savvy, opportunistic, mature and experienced movers and shakers who have been major participants, if not initiators, of today’s technologically advanced lifestyle for most of their existence. Just prone 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 influenced by the fallout from the loss of employment and home exclusion. These are the conscious consumers of the most formidable stature.
Misconception #3: Seniors are too “good” to spend money
Fact: Seniors are today’s biggest spenders. According to estimates based on a consumer spending survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 approximately $2.6 trillion was spent by baby boomer families in the United States. It is a growth of 45% year on year as measured by a Gallup survey mentioned in a June 10, 2010. New York Times article by Catherine Rampell, titled “Who’s Spending Again? The Rich and the 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 spending habits are greatly affected by the wishes and needs of those who are important to them: the their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. grandchildren If, for example, the son of an elderly person has lost his job and can no longer support his family at the level of comfort they once had, away from the grandmother to watch them suffer. Many older Americans have welcomed younger generations into their homes and now spend liberally to keep them fat and happy, so to speak.
But there’s another reason why elders have relaxed the strictures on their often extra-large nest eggs. Recent stock market results have a psychological impact on the mentality of retirees with investments, even if those investments are based on bonds or annuities, leading to the conclusion that they are richer. Add this sense to the logic that the elderly may feel that life is too short and now is the time to splurge before it is too late. Tired of years of moderately successful finances now bolstered by the meager fruits of social security benefits, some of these seniors enjoy significant means and plan to experience life’s luxuries before time runs out.
What does that mean? That means vacations, cruises, luxury vehicles and home entertainment purchases. It means shopping for clothes, jewelry and gifts for children. It means spending on hair and nails and plastic surgery and a new smile. It means dining out and going out for an evening of fun. All on a regular basis. Once you start, it’s hard to stop.
Misconception #4: Seniors have no brand loyalty
Fact: Older people demonstrate brand loyalty far more than members of today’s younger generations who tend to be fickle, switching from one thing to another at a moment’s notice. While fashions, trends and social influences draw young people from one product to another, the elderly are considered more valuable as customers, according to a September 26, 2007. New York Times article by Matt Richtel on “Sticky Old People”. An elder will take the time to evaluate a decision carefully and stick with that commitment longer as a general rule.
Although elders 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 viewed with some reserve in the changing world. of today First, old age tends to lead to 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 a senior (or anyone for that matter), regardless of how smart or accomplished they may be. to be. Finally, the skills that the elderly have mastered tend to be for things that we no longer need or use, such as yesterday’s engines or obsolete entertainment hardware, for example, now replaced by the technology of l Wireless computing of the most advanced level. Even if the elderly have followed every technological development through the years, their motivation to keep up-to-date with such changes once withdrawn greatly decreases, as does their retention capacity. A younger person has the advantage here.
Misconception #5: Seniors don’t buy anything unless there’s a discount
Fact: If there is one thing that seniors totally dominate, it is the health market, discount or no discount. No one buys more health products than seniors, making it easily the most valuable market for companies in that industry, bar none. Old age, by nature, brings difficulties with balance, dexterity, autonomy and mobility, as well as sensory maintenance and retention. Some of these conditions encourage social withdrawal. Industries that serve to protect the elderly from physical and psychological death can only hope to reap the rewards of their manufacturing and marketing prowess. However, it is evident that the prospect of investing heavily in the development of products that can serve such purposes raises trepidation in companies ready to benefit. The reason for this is that the senior market is also an unproven territory, not having shown that buying in new technologies that preserve health and well-being even if there is an urgent need. Rather, companies like Ford Motor, which has a hands-free parallel parking system that eases the need to crane the neck (a common pitfall of aging), coupled with blind spot detection and a voice-activated audio system , they can comfort. its ability to market to a broad-based market, not just aimed at the elderly mysterious for the success of the product.
While writing this article, I was casually contacted by a local non-profit organization “Aging in Place” who stated that they needed a marketing plan to facilitate an increase in paid membership. Aging in Place is a concept used by national aging groups to describe efforts to help older adults remain in their own homes for as long as possible while receiving assistance from a variety of outside services, if any necessary, to find solutions for any inconvenience or inconvenience. 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 throughout the country have embraced the idea that the construction of residential or retirement centers suitable for the elderly that incorporate new technologies to monitor the health and safety of the elderly its residents, and also social on site, meals, The areas of entertainment, fitness and physical therapy, are a safe bet for senior marketing.
Of course, any scenario makes sense, as long as all marketers address the age-old question: what is the best way to reach the elderly? Or, the question is instead, how to reach adult children of the elderly? While the choices remain the same as when trying to reach the entire market, which are all expensive when an unknown response rate is still possible, there are ways to target the elderly with some intuitive reasoning. Think old fashioned if you want an older demographic; think creatively to reach the newly introduced “younger” senior baby boomer or their adult children. Among a wide range of strategies, the former means advertising in the newspaper; on conservative radio programs; or sponsorship marketing and live presentations with mannequins at senior fairs and events at 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 way for any older age is through their postal address, lists of which can be obtained by selecting age plus a range of other parameters that can be approved.
And as with any marketing, one effort may not be enough. A diversified approach and several attempts are usually what means a more successful result, being vigilant to measure the response in each step of the process. But keep one thing in mind. The elderly have become victims of scams more often than we care to admit. While some may still be helpless vulnerable, others have become even more careful, wary of every marketing offer they encounter!
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