Marketing to Healthy-Eating California Seniors

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Healthy eating by California’s seniors can lead to healthy profits for marketers.

California has a reputation for being the home to people who eat healthy, have an active lifestyle, and have an upbeat attitude. But is this reputation deserved or more of a myth? And if it is true, how does it apply to seniors, and what does it mean for marketers trying to reach this target audience?

There is evidence that supports many of the “stereotypes’ of the state. According to The United Health Foundation, California ranks 3rd in the nation in “health behaviors” which measures such things as diet, exercise, smoking, drinking, and preventative care visits to doctors and dentists. So it’s not surprising that the state has a life expectancy of 80.9 which is 2nd in the U.S.

As far as diet is concerned, Californians are known as healthier eaters. They eat more servings of fruits and vegetables than residents of any other state. But for California’s 7,000,000 seniors, it can be a different story. Consistent with the rest of the country, approximately 1 in 4 older Californians have poor nutrition. And as they get older, their nutritional needs, appetite, and food habits change in many ways. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that seniors need to be mindful of the following:

  • Seniors need to eat more foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • Many seniors experience a loss of appetite with age. It’s also common for seniors to have their sense of taste and smell diminish. These factors lead to malnutrition and health problems.
  • Since seniors often do not notice when they are thirsty, it’s especially important for them to make a conscious effort to stay hydrated
  • Many seniors have less social interactions which can turn mealtimes into a chore rather than an enjoyable experience

Marketers can help educate and provide seniors with solutions to healthier eating. The National Institute on Aging suggests:

  1. Help make eating more of a social event
  2. Provide them with healthy meal planning and portion control solutions
  3. Add more flavors to their food using herbs and spices
  4. Provide foods that are softer for their teeth and gums
  5. Develop products that are specifically created to address the fiber, vitamins and minerals that seniors need

The adult nutritional section in stores is a sad place. All too often, food is being marketed too much like medicine. Packaging, product names, graphics, and nutritional information are presented in a boring, clinical manner that appears anything but delicious or appealing. Packaged-goods marketers can easily stand out as a brand that “gets” seniors. And in California, with the most Hispanics and Asians in the country, imagine the opportunity for senior-oriented products created just for them. The opportunity starts with the right products, but should continue with the same “senior sensitivity” in pricing, advertising and distribution.

In the U.S., seniors account for nearly $230B of consumer sales. And much of this is made up of food-related products. The 2010 U.S. Census shows the senior age group is, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percentage. And it’s the fastest growing! It’s time for brands to address this target with more products with them in mind. And there’s no better way to do that than to provide nutritional and delicious food products that add healthy years to their lives.

Photo by Goran Bogicevic

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