Marketing to the Retired California Senior

shutterstock_1062140336The marketing challenges and opportunities with California’s Retired seniors.

The joy of retirement that past generations experienced has changed to the shock and fear of retirement for many of today’s seniors. Retirement, especially forced or unexpected retirement, changes the behavior and attitudes of seniors overnight. The prospect of not getting another paycheck for up to 30 years is a real wake-up call for these consumers. Fortunately, marketers who understand how this life stage affects this target can actually benefit from the changes these seniors are facing. And when considering California’s seniors, unique laws, taxes, housing costs, and healthcare nuances add even more factors to consider.

It’s common knowledge that up to 50% of retirees haven’t sufficiently planned for or saved enough for retirement. As a result, they cut out or reduce the “nice to have” expenses and adopt a smarter, more thrifty and simpler consumer behavior. Some welcome this change. They view their new lives as less wasteful and extravagant. Keeping up with the Jones’s becomes a thing of the past. Status symbols become dramatically less important. Downsizing becomes an appealing, not a depressing alternative. Being smart and saving money almost becomes an enjoyable game that turns out to be quite satisfying. Senior discounts become appreciated and frankly, expected. Using coupons lose their stigma. Brand loyalty is challenged with every purchase.

Generally speaking, many retired seniors believe that good enough, is good enough. Sacrifices become easier, especially in certain categories such as the following:

  • Travel -That dream of an around-the-world cruise may need to be an Alaskan cruise instead. As far as visiting the family in Texas for Thanksgiving and Christmas, they pick one.
  • Entertainment -Going to movies and concerts don’t have to be regular occurrences. Thank goodness for Netflix!
  • Clothes -Seniors can skip a season or two. They’re much less concerned about being “on trend.”
  • Gift giving – It truly is the thought that counts. Same with charitable giving.
  • Home furnishings -Funny how that sofa doesn’t look that bad anymore. Durability and functionally matter.
  • Food – Is it really that important to go to Whole Foods? At least not for everyday items.
  • Housing -Time to downsize. Maybe even move to Arizona if California taxes are too much of a burden.
  • Automobiles – If the car is paid for, drive it longer. Or get something smaller and more economical.

Marketers should consider the following:

  1. Develop new products with seniors in mind. Perhaps smaller, less expensive versions. Consider new brand names or line-extensions that connote an appropriateness to their needs.
  2. Prices need to be fair and competitive. They compare prices and won’t pay more just because of your brand name. Always think about these three words: discounts, coupons and deals!
  3. When advertising, stick to plain-speak, not hype and hyperbole. Be genuine and show proof of your claims.
  4. Customer service is especially important. Seniors want respect, friendliness and patience when they’re being helped. They feel like they’ve earned it.
  5. Seniors are buying online as much or more as any segment. Convenience is especially important to them.

Retirees are a large and rapidly growing consumer segment. Yes, they’re cutting back, but not on products and services that are made and marketed with them in mind.

Photo byAfrica Studio

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