Marketing to seniors is a topic that is often undervalued in the marketing world. As the population of seniors in America continues to grow, it is important for brands to understand how they can market their products and services to this group.
There are many ways that companies can market their products and services to seniors, but it all starts with understanding who this demographic is. We would like to provide you with some tips for how you can successfully market your product or service.
Regardless of our birth year, we all self-identify with a younger image of ourself. Sometimes that’s a lot younger and the message sent to Seniors comes across as patronizing or downright offensive.
Many people don’t like it when they’re labeled as “seniors” or seeing an audience picture that’s an “old and gray” individual. It can be one of the quickest ways to turn off your audience. To them, it says “you are an old, over the hill, wrinkly, geriatric.”
Putting yourself in their place, you might begin to realize how the messaging to seniors come across. Often, this occurs simply because the creative team that develops these messages are much younger than the target group and just don’t have the perspective that senior specialists do.
Many current marketing efforts to seniors focus on healthcare and mobility issues — often portraying this target audience as infirm and bed-ridden. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Even though that are definitely parts of the senior market that are reaching ‘end of life’ issues. But for many seniors, they are still maintaining a younger self-image and still see a decade OR MORE of healthy living ahead of them. For this large portion of the senior/55+ market, they get genuinely upset when they are ‘painted with a broad brush’.
Collectively, the senior market is the most affluent segment of our society.
And, most of them are flooded with messaging (from their mailbox, email inbox, and other channels) with messages from organizations like AARP, drug companies, Medicare Advantage plans, hearing aids, wellness resources, life insurance, and retirement communities. Unless you are actually doing healthcare marketing to seniors, these messages can meet with resistance. For the audience, they paint a picture that does not conform to many of the recipient’s self-image.
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a broad criterion for human age, based on average health quality and life expectancy. This is slightly different from the often used criteria of Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby boomers.
As you notice, the concept of ‘Senior’ can be viewed as much older than we tend to use the term in the U.S. And many that are included in the ‘Senior category’ by many current definitions see themselves as ‘middle-aged’.
This is why many in the ‘Senior’ category can become offended by the messages that they receive.
So, how to target seniors for marketing?
Some recent ageing and health studies show that people who report feeling younger tend to live longer and healthier lives — and they don’t tend to have as much of a pattern of decline. In a lot of these cases, people say they feel about 20 percent younger than they are, according to a Michigan State study of more than 500,000 people. This keeps ramping up as folks age. Beginning at age 50, many say they feel about 10 years younger.
In fact, a Pew Research study has found that among study respondents aged 65-74, a third of them said that they felt 10-19 years younger than their age. And one in six said that they felt 20 years or more younger.
Because of the difference between actual age and ‘felt’ age, many message campaigns marketing to seniors are falling flat due to simple missteps in messaging.
Because of the different aspects and lifestyle conditions of the senior market, it is important to not treat this segment as a ‘monolith’. Segmentation is just as important for the marketing to seniors as it is for any other market segment.
Within this large (and growing) audience, there are working seniors, active retirees, physically challenged seniors, and younger family member ‘influencers.
The following are some of our recommendations for building the most effective senior market messaging.
For all of the reasons that we have discussed, consider building a target audience persona for your next senior marketing campaign might speak to an audience that is 10-15 years younger than the actual age of the group. You will find less ‘push back’ from the audience.
Even though the vast majority of adults aged 65+ might describe themselves as ‘retired’, around 75% of them have completely left the work force. So, any marketing message should allow for the fact that they target audience is sitting around, waiting for something to do.
Most mature buyers have seen their share of good and bad purchases. So big, generalized claims will not tend to convince them. Nor does ‘limited time offers’ (they’ve got time). Skip the latest ‘buzzwords’. This audience tends to respond well to facts, direct speech, and trust-building activity.
Unless a senior has turned over ‘power of attorney’ to a child or loved one, consider family members influencers only. The mature buyer will tend to want to make their own decision. So, speak directly to them.
The mature buyer respects loyal and personalized treatment. This may slow the buying process down for some sellers. But, the upside can be a loyal, regular customer in return.
Yes, most of the senior market grew up on print and TV. So, those marketing channels can be good avenues for reaching the market. But, as we have discussed, ‘one-size-does-not-fit-all’. Refining your target audience as much as possible with help you develop a well-rounded communication plan.
Generally, a good senior marketing communication plan will include both ‘traditional’ channels and ‘digital’ channels. Marketing to seniors online can not be overlooked. The Boomer audience tend to watch TV more than younger generations. But, according to Business News Daily, Facebook was the most useful platform for reaching an older demographic. 62% of 50-64 year-olds us it. So, make sure that you are marketing to seniors on Facebook.
Youtube is the second-largest website, optimized for search. Be sure to plan video content into your marketing campaigns in order to help with your search visibility. Digital marketing to seniors with videos can be a range of content from animated PowerPoint presentations to custom produced video productions. Not every video will have that viral quality, but each video has the potential to help to elevate your search visibility.
As you can see, there are many ways that companies can market their products and services to seniors, but it all starts with understanding who this demographic is and what messages resonate positively with them.. We hope that this information can help you to become more focused on your senior marketing efforts. If you need additional input and/or resources to reach your marketing goals, please contact the Senior Marketing Collective.