by Ellen Blake
Why aren’t more businesses marketing their services to older adults?
Companies tend not to focus on marketing to seniors. When you look at advertisements, it seems our society consists almost entirely of younger people. Brand marketers have a distinct obsession with age and tend to segment people into age ranges as though our buying patterns, motivations and lifestyles are based solely on the number of years we have under our belts.
Is age a reliable indicator of consumer habits? When you consider the ages of people who go back to school, start businesses or get married, the answer is unequivocally no. You are never too old for a satisfying “second act”. Advertisements that depict older adults as feeble are based on outdated assumptions, and, in my opinion, often condescending. Remember “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”? Granted, it’s true falls are a concern accompanying advanced age that needs to be addressed. But does that visual accurately portray most aging consumers? Healthy adults live and enjoy life much longer in today’s world than in generations passed.
Individuals in our age group control almost 70% of the disposable income in the United States. They outspend younger adults 2:1 on a per capita basis. The U.S. Census Bureau says older adults will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history by 2035. Every business should have a strategy to tap into the needs, wants and buying power of the vibrant 50Plus community. Yet, only 5% of marketing is currently directed to the this population. That’s a lot of potential sales lost.
It’s no secret people want to feel represented; we all want to see ourselves reflected in advertising efforts, including digital marketing. It’s time for marketers to shift their focus to more accurately portray and target the “senior” population. Here are some real-world tactics to better include this demographic into your marketing strategy.
Aging consumers are online; connect with them directly
Did you know the 50Plus population is tech-savvy? In fact, 96% of older adults use search engines, 95% use email, and 92% shop for products and services online rather than shopping in stores and shopping malls. Most have cell phones and a significant percentage use social media and watch on demand, streamed content and YouTube. Though the reliance on mobile technology decreases with age, the use of smart phones, tablets and other technology is still high and growing every year.
Do not assume other people make their buying decisions! Too many businesses exclude aging consumers from their marketing efforts and instead target “influencers” to get to them such as family members, local news stations and offline thought leaders. This tactic is appropriate for seniors who rely on younger family members or services for their care, but the overwhelming majority of this audience wants to hear from you directly. It is a mistake to assume marketing to a 55 year old is the same as what you need to do for an 85 or 90 year old. In other words, targeting influencers is fine to enhance and support marketing efforts, but place your primary focus on the end user.
Older adults are more loyal and less likely to explore once you earn their trust
Engage the individuals in this target audience early and often. Be the first to educate, inform, and present products. Once older adults find and learn to trust a website, they tend to make it their “go to” source online. Some effective ways to connect and market to seniors include:
- Free tools, tips and advice
- Discounts and coupons
- Community resources and lifestyle hubs
- Seamless and simple user experience online/offline
Older audiences value excellent customer service, personal contact and traditional communication. Personalized content and a tailored user experience are important. Additionally, they want to be able to pick up the phone and call a real person with questions. Once they feel a personal connection, aging consumers are likely to want to not only repeat it, but share with friends.
Make sure your messaging is clear and consistent to engage and retain this audience. Make sure you present the information in a way that’s easy to digest. And since none of us grew up with iphones and computers as many or our children did, apply the old KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid), provide a simple way to take action. Videos are particularly effective with the 50Plus population.
Older audiences appreciate relatable language and a larger font
The bottom line
The aging population is online and the number of tech-savvy older adults increases every year. The opportunity to engage this group is huge and relatively untapped. To earn our business, marketing professionals need to do:
- Do not assume other people make decisions for older adults; connect with them directly.
- Provide excellent content and engage early and often.
- Understand the aging consumer appreciates an outstanding user experience.
- Attract brand loyal boomers by using age appropriate language and a larger font.
We are a busy, active and fast growing segment of the population. You are losing out on a lot of businesses if you don’t keep that in mind when you create your marketing strategy! Customize your marketing efforts to earn our business.
Have questions about how to tailor your marketing efforts to older consumers? We can help! We offer a variety of budget friendly options to help promote your brand. Effective marketing to seniors is essential for success in today’s world! (A word of advice…most older adults do not want to be called “seniors”, so try to use other terms in your marketing efforts when directly targeting this population like active adults, aging consumers, etc.)
Contact us today!