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Does Your Marketing Reflect Older Customers? 10 Tips

By: Elaine Fogel


Did you know that 2 billion people worldwide will be 60 years and older by 2050, according to the World Health Organization? That’s one in five people!

In the U.S., the number of Americans 55 and over will grow to 112 million in 2030, according to U.S. Census figures. And, while the aging population is growing in number, their spending power is growing too, as many have more time to shop and spend than their younger counterparts, says a new Nielsen study.
Now, take these facts into account, too: 
  • Businesses started by those ages 55 to 64 in 2013 accounted for nearly one-quarter of all new businesses started, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity.
  • Three-quarters of U.S. adult workers in 2013 believed they will continue working past retirement age, with 40% saying they will do so because they want to, and 35% because they will have to, according to Gallup.
But, here’s the disconnect:
More than half of the Nielsen respondents said that current advertising does not reflect older consumers. 
Whether yours is a small to medium B2C or B2B business or nonprofit organization, is it ready now, and for the future, in accommodating this demographic?  
Want to meet the needs and challenges of an aging demographic? Consider these 10 marketing tips:
  • Last year, 43% of Americans over 65 used at least one social networking site (Mashable/Pew Research Center). This means their social circles may not diminish as much as they did before the advent of the Internet. It’s highly possible that older people will maintain their peer influence when it comes to purchases and donations. Discover which social sites your older audiences are using and engage with them there.
  • Use positive images of older people in your marketing collateral. People like to see images of themselves, so if you’re targeting healthy and active seniors, show photos of them. If you’re targeting seniors with physical disabilities, use positive images of seniors using assistive devices.
  • Make sure you can answer a variety of questions in your collateral and communications channels. Retired and semi-retired seniors have the time to research their choices thoroughly. Build their trust by posting your policies and other pertinent information where they are easily accessible.
  • Use larger font sizes in your collateral. Once we reach middle age, our vision begins to deteriorate at close distances. This condition, presbyopia, continues to progress over time.
  • Include white space in your designs. Over-crowded layouts are difficult to navigate. And, color perception also wanes from middle age on, making it more challenging to distinguish colors.
  • Avoid using white content on dark backgrounds except as a flourish. It’s more difficult to read.
  • Use audio thoughtfully. Take hearing impairment into account.
  • Avoid calling seniors “old.” Baby Boomers are not accepting aging in the same way their parents did.
  • Use straight-forward marketing copy. Active seniors may be more discerning or suspicious until you earn credibility.
  • Baby Boomers are fond of reminiscing their youth. Using their generation’s music and images can bring warm, fuzzy feelings.
The ideal approach is to research your particular senior audience to learn more about this demographic as it relates to your products/services/mission. Considering and accommodating their needs now, and into the future, will give your business or organization a distinct advantage with this market segment.
Is your business or organization currently marketing to seniors? Got any more marketing tips to add?
This article was originally published by Elaine Fogel
Published: March 11, 2014

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Elaine Fogel

Elaine Fogel is a marketing, branding, and customer experience evangelist, professional speaker, and author of Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success. People in 100+ countries regularly read her blog, Totally Uncorked on Marketing and her articles have appeared in many publications.

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