Want to market to California Seniors? The key is to do it like you mean it.

shutterstock_214495888Seniors know the difference between being accommodated and being welcomed

A number of companies and retailers are beginning to accommodate the senior consumer. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise since the numbers speak for themselves. The 2010 Census shows the senior age group is, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percentage. And it’s growing at the fastest rate! In California alone there are over 7 million consumers aged 55+. And while some companies and retailers are recognizing this demographic and doing things to accommodate them, very few are actually welcoming them. Seniors know the difference between these two words, and it makes a big difference in their purchasing preferences.

As a fellow Senior, I’ve found that we all know when a product or company “gets us”. We all know when they truly want our business. We see it and we feel it. The product itself seems like it was created and designed to fit our lives. The brand’s positioning, brand personality, and messaging seem to be specifically crafted with us in mind. Advertising and marketing materials use relatable language and casting, accessible type size and graphics, and include an emotional element that connects us to their product. They demonstrate that they understand the purchase criteria is different for Seniors than it is for younger consumers. In effect, they are welcoming us to their brand.

The new crop of Seniors and Boomers are unlike any “older” group that has ever proceeded them. This isn’t a group that is actually younger, but it is definitely younger at heart. A large portion of them can now be classified as “active seniors”. They care more about their physical and cognitive health, and are actively engaged socially and intellectually. According to Pew Research, many Seniors say they feel 10 to 20 years younger than their age! They demand respect and resent being portrayed as Grandpa Simpson who can’t find his glasses. They’re hardly the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” demo. As singer Kenny Rogers so aptly put it:

“Growing older is not upsetting, being perceived as old is”

For marketers who want to grow their business with Seniors, they should ask themselves the following questions:

• Is my product/service designed specifically with Seniors in mind? Can I alter it to be so?

• What would my product/store look like and feel like if it welcomed Seniors?

• What kind of incentives/discounts can I offer to welcome Seniors?

• What would my marketing materials look like that truly welcomed Seniors?

• What media should I choose that welcomingly targets Seniors without being stereotypical or insulting?

Yes, companies and retailers are beginning to “accommodate” Seniors. Unfortunately, these simply include changes that “allow for” or “give consideration” to these consumers, kind of like updates for “code” reasons. Unfortunately, this level of commitment will not win over the hearts and minds of senior consumers and create brand loyalty.

A huge opportunity awaits brands and companies that go beyond accommodating  to welcoming. Imagine what these consumers would think if they knew they were being welcomed with gladness and delight. A “welcoming” senior strategy could be incorporated into every component of a brand. And importantly, it would be a competitive differentiator.

Photo by Wavebreakmedia

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