The Buying Potential of the California Senior


For many marketers, the revenue potential for California seniors is an opportunity that is yet untapped

In California, as well as nationally, seniors account for nearly half of consumer spending, but are targeted with just 10% of marketing dollars! What’s most surprising about this statistic is that most marketers are surprised by it. And equally surprised by the following facts:

  • According to AARP, seniors spend over $5 trillion annually
  • The senior population has $2.4 trillion in annual income which accounts for 42% of all after-tax income in the U.S. (Consumer Expenditure Study)
  • The 2010 Census shows the senior age group is, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percent in the U.S. And it’s growing at the fastest rate! (U.S. Census)
  • By 2025, one in every 5 Americans will be 65 or older (International Longevity Center)
  • Adults 55 to 64 outspend the average consumer in nearly every category, from food, household furnishings, entertainment, personal care, gifts, travel, and many others (The U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey)
  • Seniors account for nearly $230 billion, or 55% of consumer-packaged goods sales
  • The 55+ age group controls more than three-fourths of America’s wealth (ICSC)
  • Boomers outspend younger adults on-line nearly 2:1 on a per capita basis (Forrester Research)

There are approximately 7 million Californians aged 55 years and older. (U.S. Census) That’s a bigger population of seniors than any other state. And it is expected to grow more than twice as fast as the total population. The state’s average life expectancy is 80.8 which ranks it the 4th highest among U.S. states. (US Census) Importantly, California ranks 3rd when it comes to a healthy life expectancy of 67.7 years which takes in to account lack of illness or injury. (CDC) A longer, healthier life is a result of socioeconomic conditions and fewer risk factors such as smoking, inactivity, obesity, and diet. A physical environment with great weather, like California, that encourages less car usage and more pedestrian and bicycle transportation is also a key factor. Not surprisingly, the lowest 8 states have the most inactive and highest obesity levels.

The adage “age is just a number” is increasingly becoming a reality. According a to Pew Research Center study, among respondents aged 65 to 74, one-third say they feel 10 to 19 years younger than their age. And 1 in 6 feel at least 20 years younger than their actual age. Additionally, when asked whether or not they “feel old”, 78% of 65 to 74-year olds and 61% of those aged 75+ said “No!”. And these are national numbers. One can only wonder how young California seniors feel!

Some products are designed and promoted specifically to seniors. But there are even more products and services with broad appeal across age groups that generate substantial sales from seniors despite little of no advertising or marketing dollars targeted to them. Imagine the potential increase in sales if they received their fair share of marketing! Many trends start in California. And California seniors are just waiting to show the rest of the country the true extent of their buying power.

Photo by Benjamin Morris

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