Look Beyond Age When Marketing to California’s Seniors


When marketing to the California senior, age is just a number.

A senior is not a senior. Especially in California. Seniors are a group of people who have been clustered together for the convenience of market researchers and trend forecasters. Some define this segment as people aged 50 and over, other use 55+, while even others use 60+. The starting point used makes a big difference because the total population for 50+ is roughly 108M, 55+ is about 87M, and 60+ is estimated at 65M. (US Census) The two groups that consist of 55+ have been named Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964) and The Silent Generation (born from 1928 to 1945). These groups have been segmented based on societal factors (ie: wars, economy, world events, etc.) and their life experiences resulting from their time in history.

The key to understanding “seniors” from a marketing perspective is to go beyond age and to better understand the similarities and differences of the sub-segments within it.

Boomers (aged 54 to 72 in 2018)

In general, Boomers are bound together by political assassinations, the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Rights, and the Vietnam War. Verses prior generations, they tend to be associated with freedom and experimentation. Boomers also tend to value work and see work as being central to their lives.

The Silent Generation (aged 73 to 90 in 2018)

Unlike generations that followed, this group was more of a “we” generation than a “me” generation. After all, they were part of our country’s defeat of the Axis powers in World War II. They have a sense of purpose and duty to country and worked extremely hard to better themselves. Unfortunately, due to the Depression and World War II, they can also be “grave, fatalistic and withdrawn” (Time Magazine)

The broad-stroked similarities mentioned above don’t fully explain how complicated and diverse seniors really are. Dig deeper and one can segment them into a number of attitude and behavioral-based groups that can be much more relevant and actionable for marketers. Here are some titles within the segment that attempt to do just that:

  • I am still young
  • My time to rest and relax
  • Adventure seekers
  • Tech embracers
  • Let’s see the world
  • Cocooners
  • Let’s re-locate
  • Entertain me
  • Still driven to succeed
  • Very retired
  • Still working, still everything
  • New part-time job
  • Looking forward
  • Looking backwards
  • I am who I am
  • I am who I’ll be
  • It’s all about my illness
  • Healthier than ever
  • Active every day
  • Coach potatoes
  • My kids are my life
  • My pet is my life
  • Gramma and Grampa
  • Community activists
  • My hobby is my life
  • Accumulators
  • Simplifiers
  • Give-backers
  • I love my friends
  • Spend thrifts
  • I want my senior discount
  • You look great!
  • Still sexy
  • Status symbols are B.S.
  • QTR (quality time remaining)
  • Live to go to heaven
  • Live to be remembered
  • Perennials (always re-inventing themselves)

For marketers, the goal is to attach your brand to a positive characteristic or sub-segment.

Seniors today are very different from past generations. Importantly, most feel that they’re 10 to 20 years younger than their actual age. (Pew Research Center) They view their older years not as life winding down, but as the beginning of Act II. And this trend is being led by seniors in California who tend to be more open-minded, active and healthier. To a large degree, being old is a state of mind. As Bill Clinton said, “When our memories outweigh our dreams, it is then we become old”. Forget stereotypes and broad-stroked “givens”. This is the Wild West for seniors and those who recognize the opportunity can benefit immensely.

Photo by Syda Productions

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