Marketing to Seniors: Why it’s More Important Than Ever, and Why so Many Get it Wrong
The 2010 US Census led to a landmark discovery – for the first time ever, the senior generation represented the largest segment of the US population. In fact, the senior generation will continue to be larger than younger generations for the next 30 years (Source: Nielsen.com). According to AARP, however Americans over the age of 50 account for over half of all consumer spending, yet only 10% of marketing targets them (Source: AARP.org). It is amazing that this group of people – the single largest demographic group in the United States – is almost completely ignored by marketers, but what is most incredible is that the vast majority of marketers who do try to reach seniors have absolutely no idea how to speak to them. We have a simple, tried-and-true approach for engaging with seniors that has helped our clients stand out.
Who Are You Calling Old?
Marketers often fail to reach seniors because they lose sight of one vital notion: No matter their age, people are still people. Rather than recognizing that a person who has just turned 55 doesn’t simply lose interest in the things that have brought joy to their lives thus far, marketers place their emphasis on age and all too often focus on maladies in their advertising. These very same marketers would hate being called “old” or depicted as out of touch, yet they have no problem perpetuating the stereotypes of what it means to be “old” in commercials and messaging.
Chances are, you don’t have to think too hard to come up with examples of ads you have seen that fit the description above. There are several brands whose products are synonymous with fixing a problem that only faces seniors. Fear is a classic tactic to boost sales, but brand loyalty is not built on fear. Seniors do not view themselves as broken, therefore you as a marketer shouldn’t either.
Scientific research has demonstrated that, generally speaking, happiness improves as people get older (Source: Nielsen.com). It’s time to break the cycle of promoting your product or service using “fear of the unknown” as your primary message point. If you’re a Medicare marketer, for example, don’t try to convert people on the basis that proper insurance coverage will help protect their family in times of catastrophic illness. Instead, lean into the fact that the right Medicare plan for an individual’s needs will allow for more effective care and, in most cases, will also be less expensive than other forms of health insurance. Therefore, if properly insured, your customers will have the care they need to continue to live a healthy life, and more money available to enjoy the things they have always loved to do.
It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s Where You Say It
Many marketers attempting to reach a senior audience focus mainly on traditional channels (print, television, radio, etc.) because they believe that seniors aren’t online. Consider the following (Source: HubSpot.com):
- 51% of Baby Boomers spend 15 hours per week online, while only 41% of Millennials spend the same amount of time online
- 94% of Baby Boomers use the internet for e-mail
- 77% of Baby Boomers shop online
- 82% of Baby Boomers belong to at least once social networking site
- 15.5% of Baby Boomers who have a Facebook account spend 11+ hours per week on the site
- On average, people ages 50+ spend $7 billion per year online
Studies show seniors view technology as a “virtual fountain of youth,” and that embracing new technologies enables them to stay connected with the world around them (Source: Nielsen.com). There has long been a belief that seniors don’t use the internet or social media, or if they do then they certainly “don’t know how.” This could not be further from the truth. Seniors are, or are quickly becoming, power users of many of the same digital channels you already utilize to reach your target audience, and by tailoring your message to address their needs and senses of self, you can grow your business within this audience. We have years of experience in leveraging digital and social media efforts to help our clients reach a senior audience, with a track record of success that matches that experience.
This is why we’re focused on catering to and targeting seniors in a real, authentic way. The right way. Far too many marketers attempt to blanket their marketing efforts to all audiences instead of creating meaningful content that resonates with each demographic. We know that seniors embrace new technologies at an equal or greater rate as the rest of the population, and we are not afraid to reach them, digitally or otherwise. If you’re looking to jump start your efforts to market to seniors, give us a call today to find out what we can do to help!