Sex Sells When Marketing to California Seniors


Seniors are still sexy after all these years. And that can mean a marketing opportunity for those who realize it first.

Seniors are having sex! How’s that for a news flash? Quit saying “eww” for a moment and try not to think about your parents. Instead, take a deep breath and give some serious thought to the possible implications that fact might have for marketing your product. After all, marketers have known for decades that when done properly, sex sells. And there’s no reason that shouldn’t apply to the senior market as well.

According to author Loren Stein on the subject of seniors and sex,

“There’s a deep level of discomfort in our youth-oriented culture with the idea that seniors are sexually active. Sex among seniors is a subject that people don’t talk about much. There’s a misconception that seniors lose interest in sex and are, or should be, asexual.”

To say that seniors have lost interest in sex couldn’t be further from the truth. “There is no age limit on sexual activity” reports Stephanie A. Sanders, PHD, of the sexual research group, The Kinsley Institute. And Dr. Walter Bortz, professor at Stanford Medical School and a past president of the American Geriatrics Society adds that “If you stay interested, stay healthy, stay off medications, and have a good mate, then you can have a good sex life all the way to the end of life.” This isn’t just opinion, consider these facts:

  • 46% of seniors aged 65 to 70 are sexually active, 39% between 71 and 75, and 25% aged 76 to 80 (The National Poll of Healthy Aging)
  • 73% of seniors of ages 65 to 80 are satisfied with their sex lives (The National Poll of Healthy Aging)
  • 20% of people over 65 have sex lives that are better than ever before (Duke University Study)
  • Among 60 to 70-year-olds with partners, 46% of men and 38% of women have sex at least once a week as did 34% of those aged 70 and older (AARP study)
  • Almost 18 million adults 55+ purchased Fifty Shades of Grey (Bowker Market Research)
  • The Erectile Dysfunction Drugs market is expected to be worth $3.2B by 2022

It’s common knowledge that today’s seniors are healthier and living longer than previous generations. Many think of themselves as 10 to 20 years younger than their age. (Pew Research Center) This is especially true in California which has the largest number of seniors in the U.S. According to the United Health Foundation, California ranks third in the nation in “health behaviors” which measures diet, smoking, drinking, physical activity and preventative care visits to doctors and dentists. And guess what? Healthy seniors are much more sexually active.

What does all this mean for marketing your product if you’re not already selling Viagra or Cialas? Here are some things to think about:

  1. Come to grips with the size of the segment and the behavior of seniors. Open your mind, ditch your preconceptions and avoid clichés and stereotyping.
  2. Consider an appropriately sexy tone and message for your senior-related  advertising and marketing. Pre-empt your competition!
  3. Whatever you do, don’t do it on the cheap. Production values, appropriate casting, and insightful writing are key.
  4. Question whether you have the staff or outside resources that really “get” seniors—especially about how sex and intimacy fit into their lives. After all, the average creative person in American ad agencies is just 28 years old!

Photo by Jacob Lund

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