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The Senior Market...The Times They Are Changing

The recent, and future, senior market is, and will be, something we’ve never witnessed before. With baby boomers rushing into the “senior” segment (born before 1946,) at hypersonic speed, we are talking about a two-trillion dollar market.

However, marketers have always tended to aim at the younger family market, perhaps because of the huge and youthful boomer generation that infiltrated the advertising agencies in the 1960’s. Advertisers concentrated their efforts towards the “spender” in the family, typically mothers, rather than go after the larger and more affluent senior market.

When one takes a look at the past and current advertising of services and products, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the goal of the agency is to make their client’s product seem cool, hip, and lively. Loud music, flashy graphics, fast-moving clips are all part of an attempt to show the consumer how up-to-date their client is. Logical, if your product or service is limited to the younger audience. However, it will never fly with seniors.

The bottom line is, if your product or service is, or can be, of interest to the senior generation, you will need to come to the conclusion that what turns the younger market on is usually what turns the older population off.

So, what does entice seniors?

You must first learn what the senior market is thinking. What turns their head? What turns them off? What turns their stomach? Don’t jump to conclusions, though. Seniors can be a lot more “with it” then we typically give them credit for. They just have a different sense of what “too far” is...and loud metal music with someone dancing on a rooftop while holding a cereal box high in the air, followed by a street filled with a hundred dancing people also holding cereal boxes, is “too far.” The senior will tend to try and rationalize this more that a younger person because that’s not where their thinking is.

They’re breaking it all down into logic...”Okay, that was obnoxious. Let’s see, what exactly is in this box of cereal that applies to me? It apparently makes people wake up in the morning and want to sing, dance, and go on rooftops, all while holding a cereal box in their hands. That doesn’t sound like me at all. I just don’t have that kind of energy any longer and I sure don’t have the desire. And, what would the neighbors say?”  

Now, you take that same box of cereal and tell them the benefits they will get if they eat it, you’re starting to get their attention. Perhaps it’s the fiber, or maybe the huge number of nutrients contained in a bowl of this delicious cereal. Whatever the advantage over the other cereals, it needs to be made clear to the senior that this stuff is tasty and healthy. Not just that it is, but why.

However, you must also steer clear of false claims. The senior is a lot more skeptical and savvy than the average consumer. If you start making claims that your cereal will make them live longer, or that it will give them a better sex life, you will quickly lose them.

Take a hard look of what makes up the senior population in America today:

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