The Diversity of California Seniors is a Marketing Opportunity

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The diversity of California’s seniors needs to be taken into account when developing a senior marketing strategy.

Like many target audiences, the senior segment has distinct sub-segments which vary by age, income, education, retirement status, and behavior among other factors. In California, diversity is a huge “other factor” that calls for variables such as ethnicity, country of birth, and the level of acculturalization be taken into account when developing a senior marketing strategy.

The population of minorities in the U.S. accounts for approximately 100 million of the 300 million total. And a whopping 20% of the nation’s minorities live in California! (U.S. Census) In fact, California is the first large state without a white plurality. Two major ethnicities dominate the “minority” population of the state. As of 2015, 38.9% of Californians stated they were Hispanic (verses 37.5 percent White) and 14.1% stated they were Asian. Combined, that means nearly 21,000,000 residents of California are either Hispanic or Asian (U.S.Census) Importantly, that translates to nearly 4,000,000 Hispanic and Asian seniors who are under-marketed to or ignored all together by most marketers. Given that Hispanics spend over $200 billion annually in California and Asians add another $163 billion (Nielsen Consumer Panel Services), and considering that seniors could represent nearly half of those amounts, the sub-segment of seniors represents a big opportunity for marketers who recognize its potential before their competitors do.

Here are some other facts to consider when developing a senior strategy for important minority sub-segments in California:

  1. Nearly 43% of California residents speak a language other than English at home—far more than any other state (U.S. Census)
  2. 76% of the Hispanic market prefers to be marketed to in Spanish (Cheskin Research)
  3. Over 200 languages are spoken and read in California (U.S. Census)
  4. Poorly translated marketing materials are a common complaint with minority consumers (Tony Malaghan, U.S. Hispanic consultant)
  5. As many as 50% of minorities who are seniors are not yet acculturated to the U.S. Yet they quickly become brand loyal to popular American products and services. (U.S. Consumer Panel Services)
  6. California’s population has a higher number of Hispanics, Asians, and Whites than any other state. The most seniors as well! (U.S. Census)
  7. Asians are the fastest growing ethnic group in California and are the most affluent and educated of all minority segments (Nielsen)
  8. The Asian market is comprised primarily of people of Chinese decent. Then Filipino, Vietnamese, and Koreans (U.S. Census)
  9. The California Hispanic segment is dominated by people of Mexican decent. Then from countries in Central America, then from countries in South America. (U.S. Census)

Although ethnic groups in California are very different from each other in many ways, they have some common traits as it relates to marketing. Advertising and marketing need to express the right attitude and include the shared cultural values of the target. This is especially true for seniors who are first or second generational. And because their cultures have more respect for their elders than is typically found in America, marketers who show the same level of respect to them will be rewarded quickly. This means creating marketing plans that are developed specifically for them and sometimes with creative in their native language. Marketers must also be aware of cultural differences among the various countries of origin within segments, and know that “one size does not fit all.”

Photo by Andy Dean Photography

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