Role of Traditional Media in Marketing to the California Senior


There is still a role for traditional media when marketing to California seniors.

When developing marketing and media strategies, most marketers believe in the tenet Digital First. And for good reason. Regardless of the product or the target audience, digital media and marketing have proven to be the most affordable, efficient and quantifiable approach. This is even true when marketing to seniors. After all, 70% of all seniors use the internet daily, while 80% of them use social media to interact with their friends and family. (USC Leonard David School of Gerontology)

However, excluding traditional media such as newspapers, radio, television, magazines, and outdoor in the marketing mix is a lost opportunity when targeting older consumers.

Let’s take newspapers as the most extreme example. We’ve all heard that print is dead (or dying) and that newspapers, in particular, have one foot in the grave. Circulation and revenue have been falling and layoffs in the industry have been deep and widespread. As a result, many marketers have fled this medium. But wait a minute. Trends are one thing, but let’s consider the current facts—especially for seniors.

  • 169 million adults in the U.S. read a newspaper in a month. Nationally, roughly 72 million readers are seniors and an estimated 5 million are California seniors. (Nielsen Scarborough Study and US Census)
  • While digital versions are growing, 81% still use the printed version (Nielsen Scarborough Study)
  • Newspapers are still one of the most effective ways of reaching higher educated consumers and those with household income over $100,000 (News Media Alliance)
  • Total weekday circulation, while down, is nearly 40,000,000 nationally (Pew Research Center)
  • Older consumers, those with a longer length of residence, and those being at an age indicating a state in life that may be called “established” are heavier users of newspapers (Edward Malthouse-Medill School of Journalism)
  • The medium age of a person reading a daily newspaper is 57.9 (Nielsen Scarborough Study)
  • Ad revenue for newspapers in 2017 was nearly $18 billion (Pew Research Study)
  • Half of newspaper readers stated that they found advertising in newspapers to be helpful or very helpful with making purchase decisions. (Statista)

So it seems like the death notice for newspapers is a bit premature. But if seniors own a computer and could get their news online, why bother with a printed newspaper?

Here are a few reasons from Logan Jenkins, a newspaper reporter from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

  1. Older people like the actual print in newspapers better than the pulsating fonts on a screen. It’s easier to read—especially if you need to adjust the distance for your failing eyes.
  2. Older people like to read newspapers with a cup of coffee in hand—not while using a computer keyboard
  3. Older people like to share sections of the newspaper with each other and talk about them as they do
  4. The older demo is a lot less interested in video and snappy graphics. If they want to viscerally experience a major news event, they turn on the TV.

Similar arguments can be made for television, radio, magazines, and outdoor. Unless you’re buying stock in media companies, don’t worry so much about trends and the latest shiny object in the digital media world. Think about what could work now, and what today’s seniors are responding to currently. Add some traditional media to your marketing mix. You’ll be amazed that everything old is new again

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