The Voting and Marketing Power of California Seniors

shutterstock_570150349What politicians and cause marketing organizations should know about California Seniors

As is the case in product marketing, many political campaign managers and cause-related CMO’s under-market to California Seniors and Seniors in general. Big mistake. In a blind rush to capture younger voters and consumers, the power of the senior demographic continues to lack the the attention it deserves. One striking statistic exemplifies this dramatically. In the 2016 presidential election, 71% of Americans over 65 years old voted compared to 46% of 18 to 29-year-olds. (U.S. Census Bureau) And importantly, there are more Seniors than any other demographic group! California tops the list of voters with 2.4 million people aged 65 and older who voted in the last election with Florida next at 1.7 million followed by New York with 1.4 million.

“Seniors are the stability of the American electorate” says Ed Goeas, a veteran Republican pollster. “They are the only group that I believe looks out not only for their own well-being but the well-being of their children and grandchildren.” Goeas says older people are more likely to view voting as a responsibility and to care about a broad range of issues, not just those commonly associated with aging. They are more connected to their communities which also makes them more likely to vote.

Celinda Lake, a Democratic consultant, agrees with Mr. Goeas. She adds, “Older voters have started to pay more attention to student debt as they try to help grandchildren who have record amounts of student loans. Additionally, Lake believes concerns over whether Medicare will be restructured or Social Security will be cut will continue to be on the minds of Seniors in upcoming elections.

So why are older citizens more likely to vote?

  1. According to Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton, older voters have a greater interest in voting because the major domestic benefit programs, like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicare affect them while younger voters simply don’t see the same benefits.
  2. Seniors also tend to vote more because they are less mobile. Eitan Hersh, assistant professor of political science at Yale University puts it this way: “People over 65 have more residential stability. The longer you are in one place, the more ties you have to the community and the more campaigns that are likely to mobilize you.”
  3. Andrea Louise Cambell, political science associate professor at MIT, adds that Seniors are more likely to vote because they have more time. “Most of them are retired, and they have the disposable income to make campaign contributions and the skills to write letters to politicians.”
  4. Lastly, and again from Eitan Hersh, he believes that Seniors tend to vote more because of social norms. In effect, Seniors are proud of voting. “They think of themselves as voters, and they care about being a voter. People detached from the election system are perfectly willing to say they didn’t vote.”

Krystin Turczynski, in an article titled The Importance of the Senior Vote for Alameda Senior Magazine, sums it up this way:

“Seniors are able to come together and defend their interests by contacting their elected officials, donating money, and yes, voting. With demographics in their favor, there is every reason to believe Seniors will continue to make their voices heard”

According to the International Longevity Center, by 2025, one in every 5 Americans will be 65 or older. And the Boston Consulting Group states that just 15% of companies have any sort of marketing or business strategy focused on older adults.  For marketers in almost every business, it’s time to give Seniors the attention they deserve–especially if you’re involved in a political or cause-related campaign. Seniors vote for people, for issues, and they certainly vote with their wallet.

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Change the Way You Sell Senior Living

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On this episode of the Senior Care Growth Show, we shared data about the baby boomer generation so you can prepare to meet the challenges of marketing and selling to this demographic head-on.

“In the next several years, more and more baby boomers will be seeking senior living services, and so the time is now to understand this generation’s attitudes towards aging and how you should be messaging your communities. Our guests on this podcast episode talk about how the way you sell and market your services is going to need to adapt. We’re going to hear today about baby boomers’ media preferences, aging in place, other attitudes and other trends that you’re going to need to adapt to.”

Are you wondering if your current marketing and sales efforts will be effective with Baby Boomers? You’re not going to want to miss this episode.

Click Here to listen to either the audio or video podcast of our interview by The Senior Care Show.

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What marketing to Vets teaches CMOs about marketing to California seniors

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A senior strategy is very much the same idea.

When my partner and I started blogging about the power and opportunity of marketing to seniors (55+), the sheer size of this audience spoke volumes. Seniors are the largest and fastest growing consumer segment, and are the wealthiest asset holders. They’re also the most experienced shoppers on earth.

Every marketing executive we’ve encountered says essentially the same thing –” this makes so much sense, why aren’t more brands focusing on seniors?”

It’s hard to believe that just 40 years ago, marketers finally realized they needed to have a separate budget dedicated to California’s growing Hispanic population and one that was led by those of Hispanic origin. The need to target seniors as a distinct consumer segment has had years of the same reluctance by CMOs. But not when it comes to targeting Veterans.

Major brands in virtually every business sector are embracing marketing programs aimed at Vets. Lowe’s, AT&T, GM and businesses such as restaurants, travel providers, grocery chains, and insurance companies have committed dedicated marketing programs and media spending to build and reward Veteran loyalty. American Airlines was an early player by giving Vets priority boarding access. It was all about respect and appreciation for their service– as well as being good for business.

The similarities of marketing to a 55+ audience and the 18,000,000 + Vets in the US, may encourage CMOs to come to the same conclusion. Here in California, marketing aimed at  seniors is not just good business, it will be critical as the age wave grows.

  • Seniors and Vets are large, identifiable demographic populations
  • Current US census data reports 18.1 million Vets
  • 50% of Vets are 65 or older
  • By 2020, 100 million Americans will be 55+. Over 7 million will reside in California.
  • Seniors and Vet’s population are growing in every state:
    • California, Texas and Florida rank as the top three states for both segments
    • Half of the counties in California will see their senior population increase over the next 2 years; 11 counties will see their 65+ population grow by 150% and for those 85+ years old by nearly 300%
  • Education is important to Vets and Seniors – they are smart consumers!
    • More Vets than non–Vets earn a high school and advanced degrees
    • By the time they are 65, seniors will have earned their “MIL” (masters in life) They’re equipped with 45 years of job skills!
    • College graduation rates for women Vets out-pace civilian females by a 30% to 25% margin
  • Seniors and Vets believe in staying in the workforce and earning a living:
    • Seniors aged 65 -74 are projected to grow the working ranks by 4.5% by 2024 vs. younger workers aged 18-25, where a drop of 1.6% is estimated
    • Vets median HH income is $35,376 vs. non-vet HH income at $24,521
  • Working seniors and Vets seek new career paths by leveraging the training they received in the military or non-military workplace.
    • After 40+ years in the workforce, seniors often take their career experience and pursue a passion or start a second career. Others volunteer to share their knowledge and wisdom.
    • Vets leave the service with training and experience that make them desired employees –skilled, disciplined, respectful of authority and focused on completing the task
  • Value and discounts are an important driver to both seniors and Vets. And they do their homework to make informed purchase decisions.
    • More than most, they care about the mission of the organization and the integrity and level of service the company delivers.

Brand marketers looking to initiate a senior strategy have examples all around them when it comes to targeting a segment like Vets. Lowe’s offer 10% discounts for everyday purchases made by Vets which totals nearly a billion dollars in savings annually. But the impact on Lowe’s bottom-line and customer loyalty is significantly more. That’s what we call a win-win situation!

Photo by Roberto Galan

Grandparents: The Marketing Potential of Targeting these California Seniors

Silver Advertising California Seniors

Grandparents are the Gifts that Keep Giving

A demographic target audience which is solely based on age, gender, and income only tells part of the story. Smart marketers realize that behavior and the life stage of consumers can often times determine buying habits that are more revealing and actionable.

And today’s media—especially online media, can pinpoint potential life-stage consumers precisely. Such is the case for the big and fast growing consumer group consisting of grandparents—a sub-segment of seniors that is spending billions of dollars a year and is ready to spend even more in a variety of product categories. To say that there is untapped potential with grandparents as a consumer segment is quite an understatement. The numbers, extrapolated from an AARP study, are staggering:

  • It’s estimated that there are approximately 90,000,000 grandparents in the U.S. That’s about 12 million in California alone.
  • About 75,000 Americans between the ages of 45-69 become grandparents each month
  • 89% of grandparents say they enjoy buying gifts for their grandkids
    • 25% say they spend up to $250 per year
    • 24% say they spend between $250 and $750
    • 25% spend over $1,000 annually
  • As for what they spend on their grandkids, the categories vary:
    • 95% say they buy birthday and holiday gifts including toys, books and clothes
    • 53% help with educational expenses
    • 37% contribute to everyday living expenses
    • 23% help with the cost of medical/dental expenses
    • 41% spend for the child’s overall well-being
    • 43% spend on activities that are fun to do with them

Jerry Shereshewsky, CEO of Grandparents.com, put it this way:

“The grandparent life stage accounts for a multi-billion marketplace ranging from products to services to educational investments. With grandparents today being more active and aware than ever before, the avenues for spending are varied and deep.”

On a personal note, I’m about to become a grandparent for the first time in a couple of months. And our future grandson is being spoiled before he’s a day old. We’ve already purchased a car seat, a stroller, a baby seat for the back of a bicycle, and a number of books, toys and clothes. And all this coming before the baby shower! I must say we’ve never spent money with such pleasure. I was even tempted to buy a little baseball glove, a tiny surfboard, and a miniature set of golf clubs until I was reminded that I was a few years early on those. My grandparent friends smile at me because they get it. No shopping is as fun or as rewarding as spending money on grandchildren.

My wife and I don’t understand why we’re not being advertised to by marketers who are spending their budgets on parents, while largely overlooking grandparents. Creating a specific grandparent strategic plan consisting of creative and media with them in mind seems like the easiest and smartest way to grab the lowest hanging fruit. Grandparents are receptive and anxious to spend. And that could mean big profits for CMO’s everywhere.

Photo by Monkey Business Images

 

The Rush to Market to California Seniors isn’t just coming. It’s begun!

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Companies like Gillette are off to a fast start in marketing to seniors. But it’s not too late to catch up!

Companies and big brands aren’t just putting a big toe in the water with products and marketing aimed at seniors—they’re diving head first into the deep end. With the senior demographic segment expected to reach over 100 million in the next 20 years with their spending reaching $4.74 trillion (AARP), smart and innovative companies simply couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer. That’s why Best Buy spent $800M for Great Call and its Jitterbug phones and personal emergency response products, why CVS is now offering video healthcare and Minute Clinics with seniors in mind, and why Amazon spent nearly $1 billion for the purchase of Pill Pack and its pre-packed medicine dosages.

Not to be left out, the Washington Post is reporting that Proctor & Gamble’s Gillette division is ahead of the curve with new products aimed specifically to seniors.

Gillette noticed that an inordinate number of sons and caretakers were shaving their elder fathers and patients. And many were bedridden without easy access to running water to rinse blades or wash off shaving cream. Traditional razors were unwieldy and tended to nick skin. According to Gillette’s Matt Hodgson, a design engineer at Gillette,

“It was clear we needed to create something completely new.”

As a result of their target audience insights, Gillette is going to introduce the first razor built for caregivers to shave others. The Gillette Treo has an extra-wide handle and comes with a clear tube that eliminates the need for running water or shaving cream. It’s easier to use and much less messy than existing razors. And Hodgson went on to say that Procter & Gamble sees the Treo as only the beginning in the development of new products for seniors. He claims that Procter & Gamble plans to look for more ways to simplify hair-washing, laundry, and ear care for aging adults.

Congratulations to Gillette! They saw a problem their expertise could solve. And virtually every product category can do the same thing. CMO’s should take stock and determine if their existing products are suited for seniors and if so, begin to market them with this fast-growing demographic in mind. And if not, perhaps a company’s expertise and brand equity are suited for the development of new products and/or line-extensions. One thing for sure—the waiting game is over. And because new products can take several years to develop and test, it’s time to start now. Your competition is looking at the same data. Join the silver rush and beat them to market.

To read the entire Washington Post article,  click on the following link: ‘It’s become a 
gold rush’: Inside the race to create smart shoes, custom razors and 
high-tech devices for the over-65 crowd 

Photo by Benjamin Morris

Lessons from Hollywood: Enhance Your California Senior Marketing Strategy

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For CMOs seriously looking to create a senior targeted strategy, the insights gleaned from older movie goers offers valuable clues.

Clearly the Film and TV industry is listening and addressing slate decisions for theatrical releases and those viewed on streaming platforms. While millennials remain the coveted target group of the studios, to win the box office ticket derby they also need to reach the 50+ audience. They account for nearly 32% of all ticket sales and 49% of all film/TV consumption.

With entertainment brands like Netflix reporting that their fastest growth rate is coming from the 50+ market, their senior adult strategy appears to be working.

Traditionally, studios are risk adverse. When a hit emerges, the studios rush to produce their own versions of the storyline.

Netflix, during its infancy, needed significant offerings licensed from other studio vaults. But seniors are credited with driving the disruption that has allowed them to produce their own content because of the improved investment returns.

  • Seniors enjoy all movie genres but lean toward ‘art house films’ accounting for 75% of the average audience
  • Seniors account for 56% of the audience for Faith &family titles and 50% of indie films
  • For All-audience films, including the blockbusters such as Star Wars, seniors account for 27% of the total

CMOs can apply many of the insights from the entertainment industry to adapt to their own senior marketing plan. Here are 6 that may win your brand an Oscar!

1) Seniors have been movie viewers (consumers) their entire life:

• They’re hooked and loyal but can smell a “bomb” a mile away. They base purchase decisions on earlier ‘good and bad’ choices.

Insight: Prior experience matters. Your brand equity should be leveraged to resonate with longstanding users.

2) Subject matter or storylines are more important to seniors than other movie attributes:

• They prefer biopics, historic themes, or classic literature because they have had meaningful and sometimes emotional experiences with the content.

Insight: Brand and product experience, and don’t forget value, are the most important purchase decision criteria for seniors.

3) The 55-plus audience seeks out peer-reviewed films

• They pursue ‘Word of Mouth’ commentary, aka ‘influencers they trust’

Insight: Seniors do their homework. They are now skeptical of a lifetime of hype and sales pitches. Instead, they focus on a product’s real benefit before they purchase.

4) Senior movie audiences act and buy with predictability: 

• The Film and TV industry applies this predictability to their product development and marketing.

Insight: A performer’s career, much like a brand’s, will have some wins and loses – but it is ‘body of work’ over time that matters and should be drawn upon to differentiate and reinforce the sale.

5) Seniors favor leisure time options:

• They prefer mid-week days and non-peak hours for their entertainment choices.

Insight: This knowledge can benefit retail brands that should consider shifting their day-part offerings to capitalize on older customers who are “watching” when others are not! 

6) Seniors are nostalgic for performers they’ve grown up with:

• Seniors respond to actors/filmmakers who have success and longevity. Think Clint Eastwood or Steven Spielberg.

Insight: Customer retention and repeat visits come to brands that consistently sell products that deliver results and are relevant to the buyer. It helps to market to seniors using familiar experiences aimed directly at them – not a ‘one size fits all’ strategy.

Photo by Nestor Rizhniak

A Fun Way to Market to California Seniors

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The marketing opportunity to educate California seniors about the benefits of having fun and how your product fits into that fun lifestyle.

In a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal written by Clare Ansberry, she quotes Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Way,

“Seniors have more time to have fun—7 1/2 hours of leisure a day compared with 35-to-44 year olds, who have only around 4 hours.”

He goes on to presume that “older adults are at a loss for how to fill that time” which he says may explain why the average retiree watches 48 hours of TV each week. (Nielsen)

Ms. Ansberry goes on to write

“But many adults forget how to have fun. They’ve spent the past 40 years showing up for work every day, paying off mortgages, getting kids through school and taking care of aging parents. Having fun and being spontaneous – key elements of fun and play—get lost. Fun is important at every age, but can be even more beneficial as we grow older. The very things associated with it—laughter, levity, enjoyment and diversion can act as antidotes to stress, depression, and anxiety.”

In California, year-round outdoor activities can add to a fun, healthy and happy senior lifestyle. In an article entitled 7 Reasons Why People Age Better in California, Ann Brenoff writes that

“Californians, in general, are happier. Among other things she says, “exposure to sunlight combats depression and lifts spirits.”

And there are so many opportunities here to hike, bike, ski, play tennis and golf, enjoy the beach and enjoy the latest craze, pickleball. Maybe the California active lifestyle is a big reason why the life expectancy of 80.8 is the 4th highest of any state. And more importantly, California’s “healthy life expectancy”, which factors in illness and injury, is 67.7 which ranks 3rd in the U.S.

Of course, outdoor activities aren’t the only way to have fun. People have a wide variety of choices of how to have fun and play. As a California senior, while I enjoy outdoor activities like playing golf and going to the beach, I also love to go to movies and restaurants with my wife and friends, hang out with my kids, relax with a glass of wine or two, and get ready for this, I have fun at work. Without a passion for something, without a fun and active life, you’ve got a sedentary lifestyle. And a sedentary lifestyle is associated with decreased mental alertness, higher levels of stress, poor sleep quality, low self-worth, higher rates of disability, and diminished quality of life (Worldatlas) Now does that sound fun?

In his book, The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market, Dr. Joseph Coughlin talks about new ways to redefine seniors as a marketing opportunity.

“We’re living longer than ever and these bonus years are opening up vast new possibilities for products, services, and experiences.” He adds “Building the future of fun in a society where 100 years old is the new normal is perhaps the longevity economy’s largest growth opportunity.”

Photo by Benjamin Morris

Marketing Opportunities with California Seniors

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Like a tsunami, the California “silver rush” is coming and it’s time to develop a senior marketing strategy before your competition beats you to it.

A new California Gold Rush is on the way! This time, however, it’s more of a Silver Rush as marketers slowly, but steadily, discover the sales potential of California’s silver-haired consumers. All 7,000,000 of them! This sub-segment has been virtually ignored to date, but accounts for nearly half of consumer spending in the state. Companies that “mine” seniors first, and in the right way, are sure to be rewarded handsomely. After all, California seniors have been trend setters for years and they intend to stay that way. And importantly, as California goes, so goes the rest of the U.S.

California has a long history of firsts that have mushroomed across the country. Consumers in the state started trends like sushi in the 60’s, yoga in the 70’s, and bottled water in the 80’s. Additionally, they were first to ban smoking in the 90’s, and were responsible for the green/organic food movement of the 2000’s. The surfing culture thrived here, as did multi-cultural fusion of cuisines, drive-through restaurants, the motion picture industry, and of course, all the technical innovations of the Silicon Valley. And many of the consumers who fueled those movements then, are California seniors now.

California marketers that are curious as to whether their products and services are relevant and desirable to seniors should start by auditing their current sales and marketing efforts to seniors and begin to brainstorm what they could do with their marketing budget, product, packaging, pricing, distribution, and promotions to work harder and earn a positive ROI. Perhaps new and targeted creative and media is the answer for existing products. Many times, however, the solution is in new products, line-extensions, sub-brands, or new brands altogether.

Just as a creative exercise, imagine the following:

  • What would a hearing aid look like if it were designed by Apple?
  • What would a senior clothing line or even a hospital gown look like if it were designed by Mossimo?
  • Why can’t wheel chairs look cool?
  • What if those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner in hotel showers had type that could actually be read by seniors?
  • What would a senior product section in a grocery store consist of? Better yet, why aren’t there entire grocery stores designed with seniors in mind?
  • Why aren’t there more TV shows written and produced for seniors that are as good and authentic as This is Us is for its target?
  • Where are more movies like On Golden Pond and Driving Miss Daisy? (Too many fall into the trap of stereotypes and clichéd humor!)
  • What if somebody produced an English drama on TV that seniors could actually hear and understand?
  • What if a marketer produced an expensive and entertaining TV commercial for a “senior” product and aired it on the Super Bowl? Revolutionary!
  • Why aren’t there video games for seniors?
  • Why don’t car companies position or design cars for seniors?

The sad truth is that too many marketers either don’t know about the upcoming California silver rush or don’t have marketing partners to pull it off. The good news is that it’s not too late to get on board.

About Brian Morris

Partner Silver Advertising, specializing in marketing to Seniors. Co-Author of The Silver Rush: Marketing to the California Senior.

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The Importance of Having the Right Resources When Targeting California’s Seniors

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When it comes to marketing to California’s seniors, it takes one to know one!

The opportunity is there. 7,000,000 California seniors who are mostly ignored or disrespected by marketers. With more buying power than any other demographic segment, marketers are just now beginning to realize the huge potential of senior consumers and the importance of getting their message to them ahead of their competitors. But knowing about the potential is only half the battle. Having the right resources, with a knowledge and sensitivity to the target audience, is critical to successful selling.

As for me, being referred to as a “senior” doesn’t bother me. After all, I share some common characteristics with this consumer segment including:

  • I’m 65 years old, but think of myself as 10 to 15 years younger (until I’m buying something online and need to scroll and scroll downward to find 1953)
  • I’m still working and don’t plan on stopping any time soon
  • I’ve become less brand loyal and less status conscious
  • I expect deals and discounts. And I’m not embarrassed using coupons.
  • Now that the kids are out of the house, my wife and I downsized and simplified
  • I exercise more and eat healthier than ever
  • I get most of my news online, but still enjoy an occasional newspaper
  • I’m nostalgic about music and events of my youth, but try to stay current and contemporary

As far as the advertising and marketing industry is concerned, too many ad agencies believe that older people don’t understand social media, they’re too expensive, and they need a younger staff to work on large, youth-oriented categories such as fast food, soft drinks, beer, video games, and telecommunications. According to Nancy Martin, Director-talent at TBWA,

“There’s a commonly held conception that to be creative, you need to know what’s hot, what music is cool, what website is all the rage, and with age, you become less aware of those things by and large”

That might explain why the average age of the staff in ad agencies is 38 and why more than 60% of employees in the ad industry are 25-44. What’s more, the average age of a creative is 27, and just 5% of agency employees are over 50.(Forbes Magazine) Meanwhile, there’s a large and skilled talent pool consisting of older advertising professionals that has been pushed out of the business. No wonder 32% of advertising professionals say they experienced ageism and 79% say they work in an ageist industry.

Assuming there’s some truth to younger employees being a better fit for products aimed at younger consumers, there are still huge brands and companies that market (or should market) to consumers aged 55+. After all, seniors represent half of the population and control over 50% of the nation’s disposable income. And importantly, they account for $46 trillion in wealth! (Forbes Magazine) It’s time for CMOs to question the experience of their resources for their older customers and time for older and experienced advertising and marketing professionals to help them understand and communicate to this large, untapped, and growing demographic.

Photo by Benjamin Morris