Category: Advertising

Marketing to Healthy-Eating California Seniors


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

It’s Time for CMOs to Think About Retirement!


Why targeting California Seniors should become a priority.

CMOs should think more about retiring – not theirs, but those 65 and older who have more time and wealth than any other segment! Population growth in California is a fact of life. And for California seniors, there’s a lot more life ahead of them to drive sales and share for decades to come.

The growth trends are significant:

  • Since 2010, California Seniors have increased 112%
  • During the same time period, 38 California counties will increase 150% by 2020.
  • And another 26 California counties will increase by 200%

With growth happening like this, one would assume that the largest and wealthiest population segment is in the line of sight for CMOs across every business segment. In truth, seniors are only targeted with 10% of paid media buys. And given the capability of more increased customer data than ever before, it is baffling to see such a “rich and ready” target essentially remain invisible to so many brands.

While pharma and travel rank high among senior spending, the vast majority of product categories that seniors buy are nearly identical to those younger consumers purchase.

Opportunities to focus on new, emerging targets is not new, especially in California.

Back in the 1980’s, the practice of specialization by agencies targeting highly measurable consumer groups began to appear in California as the ethnic demography began to change. An early agency specialty was Hispanic consumer marketing, followed by African-American and Multi-cultural marketing. General market audiences, while important, continued to shrink as a  percentage of the total shopper mix, especially in California. But the smart CMO, and the agencies they hired, went beyond the mere translation of general market creative. To have relevance in this new space, Hispanic marketing expertise was acquired by the general market agencies and Hispanic-centric agencies started growing. They successfully captured blue-chip clients seeking authenticity in the advertising aimed at the Hispanic consumer and the billions they had to spend.

Today, only a of handful of dedicated senior-focused agencies exist – a hugely disproportionate number considering the soon to be largest population segment in the country.

What those ‘daring’ enough have discovered is that today’s older consumers respond to creative and messaging that is relevant and respectful of someone who has been a consumer for the past 40-50 years. Imagine giving specific attention to the most experienced shoppers on the planets – ones who do their homework and seek value, but aren’t only looking at price.

This is the audience CMOs should embrace and make the effort to speak to on their terms.

CMOs should carve out a portion of their budget and  tailor the message with as much consideration for authentically as if it were for a Hispanic, African-American, multicultural or millennial target. The time is now since by the end of this decade, California will exceed 50 million in population, equal to 14% of U.S. total. With California seniors buying power and their desire to continue to consume almost anything, CMOs need to rethink their position on older audiences as new acquisition targets. Just imagine what success and added growth could mean to your own retirement someday.

Photo by Koldunov


California Seniors Consume Almost Everything


CMOs need to consider the buying power of California’s senior adults.

Being a CMO is all about getting into the heads of their prospective targets, shopping habits, media usage and what it takes to build loyalty once a consumer has selected your company’s brand. It would be assumed that the largest and most wealthy population segment is smack dab in the line of sight of CMOs across across the country. But the truth is, the prime target group of consumers across almost every business segment averages only 10% of all paid media buys.And that group is America’s senior population.
Seniors spend 5 times what the coveted millennials spend and California seniors lead the country. Given the capability through customer acquisition data to know more about consumers than ever, its baffling to see such a “rich and ready” target being over-looked.
  • Millions of seniors live in California and they are increasing at staggering levels
  • Compared to the early 2000’s, 38 California counties will see senior growth increase 150% by 2020. 26 other counties will increase by a whopping 200
While pharma and travel rank at the top of the senior targeting industries, the vast majority of product categories that seniors buy are largely identical to those younger consumers purchase. But, when asked ‘what’s your senior strategy?’ too many CMOs appear to hesitate a bit and usually respond that they’re covered by their current targeting methodology. Really?
Back in the 1980’s, the practice of specialization by advertising agencies, targeting highly measurable consumer groups, began to appear.  For example, here in California, as the ethnic demography began to change, the leading advertising agency specialty was Hispanic consumer marketing. Hispanic centric agencies started to capture blue chip client accounts as CMOs sought authenticity in the advertising they created aimed at the Hispanic consumer .
It’s incredible today that there are only a handful of dedicated senior-focused agencies. This is a hugely disproportionate number considering that seniors are soon to be largest population segment in the country. 
There are also few CMOs who have a legitimate marketing focus to reach older consumers. Many lack the creative and messaging that is relevant and respectful of someone who has been a consumer for the past 40-50 years.  Imagine having respect for the most experienced shoppers on the planets – the ones who do their homework, know how to negotiate and seek value but aren’t only looking at price. That’s what I call an opportunity.

Photo by time to rest via photopin (license)

The Buying Potential of the California Senior


For many marketers, the revenue potential for California seniors is an opportunity that is yet untapped

In California, as well as nationally, seniors account for nearly half of consumer spending, but are targeted with just 10% of marketing dollars! What’s most surprising about this statistic is that most marketers are surprised by it. And equally surprised by the following facts:

  • According to AARP, seniors spend over $5 trillion annually
  • The senior population has $2.4 trillion in annual income which accounts for 42% of all after-tax income in the U.S. (Consumer Expenditure Study)
  • The 2010 Census shows the senior age group is, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percent in the U.S. And it’s growing at the fastest rate! (U.S. Census)
  • By 2025, one in every 5 Americans will be 65 or older (International Longevity Center)
  • Adults 55 to 64 outspend the average consumer in nearly every category, from food, household furnishings, entertainment, personal care, gifts, travel, and many others (The U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey)
  • Seniors account for nearly $230 billion, or 55% of consumer-packaged goods sales
  • The 55+ age group controls more than three-fourths of America’s wealth (ICSC)
  • Boomers outspend younger adults on-line nearly 2:1 on a per capita basis (Forrester Research)

There are approximately 7 million Californians aged 55 years and older. (U.S. Census) That’s a bigger population of seniors than any other state. And it is expected to grow more than twice as fast as the total population. The state’s average life expectancy is 80.8 which ranks it the 4th highest among U.S. states. (US Census) Importantly, California ranks 3rd when it comes to a healthy life expectancy of 67.7 years which takes in to account lack of illness or injury. (CDC) A longer, healthier life is a result of socioeconomic conditions and fewer risk factors such as smoking, inactivity, obesity, and diet. A physical environment with great weather, like California, that encourages less car usage and more pedestrian and bicycle transportation is also a key factor. Not surprisingly, the lowest 8 states have the most inactive and highest obesity levels.

The adage “age is just a number” is increasingly becoming a reality. According a to Pew Research Center study, among respondents aged 65 to 74, one-third say they feel 10 to 19 years younger than their age. And 1 in 6 feel at least 20 years younger than their actual age. Additionally, when asked whether or not they “feel old”, 78% of 65 to 74-year olds and 61% of those aged 75+ said “No!”. And these are national numbers. One can only wonder how young California seniors feel!

Some products are designed and promoted specifically to seniors. But there are even more products and services with broad appeal across age groups that generate substantial sales from seniors despite little of no advertising or marketing dollars targeted to them. Imagine the potential increase in sales if they received their fair share of marketing! Many trends start in California. And California seniors are just waiting to show the rest of the country the true extent of their buying power.

Photo by Benjamin Morris