Category: Statistics

Change the Way You Sell Senior Living

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On this episode of the Senior Care Growth Show, we shared data about the baby boomer generation so you can prepare to meet the challenges of marketing and selling to this demographic head-on.

“In the next several years, more and more baby boomers will be seeking senior living services, and so the time is now to understand this generation’s attitudes towards aging and how you should be messaging your communities. Our guests on this podcast episode talk about how the way you sell and market your services is going to need to adapt. We’re going to hear today about baby boomers’ media preferences, aging in place, other attitudes and other trends that you’re going to need to adapt to.”

Are you wondering if your current marketing and sales efforts will be effective with Baby Boomers? You’re not going to want to miss this episode.

Click Here to listen to either the audio or video podcast of our interview by The Senior Care Show.

Silver Advertising Podcast Interview


What marketing to Vets teaches CMOs about marketing to California seniors

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A senior strategy is very much the same idea.

When my partner and I started blogging about the power and opportunity of marketing to seniors (55+), the sheer size of this audience spoke volumes. Seniors are the largest and fastest growing consumer segment, and are the wealthiest asset holders. They’re also the most experienced shoppers on earth.

Every marketing executive we’ve encountered says essentially the same thing –” this makes so much sense, why aren’t more brands focusing on seniors?”

It’s hard to believe that just 40 years ago, marketers finally realized they needed to have a separate budget dedicated to California’s growing Hispanic population and one that was led by those of Hispanic origin. The need to target seniors as a distinct consumer segment has had years of the same reluctance by CMOs. But not when it comes to targeting Veterans.

Major brands in virtually every business sector are embracing marketing programs aimed at Vets. Lowe’s, AT&T, GM and businesses such as restaurants, travel providers, grocery chains, and insurance companies have committed dedicated marketing programs and media spending to build and reward Veteran loyalty. American Airlines was an early player by giving Vets priority boarding access. It was all about respect and appreciation for their service– as well as being good for business.

The similarities of marketing to a 55+ audience and the 18,000,000 + Vets in the US, may encourage CMOs to come to the same conclusion. Here in California, marketing aimed at  seniors is not just good business, it will be critical as the age wave grows.

  • Seniors and Vets are large, identifiable demographic populations
  • Current US census data reports 18.1 million Vets
  • 50% of Vets are 65 or older
  • By 2020, 100 million Americans will be 55+. Over 7 million will reside in California.
  • Seniors and Vet’s population are growing in every state:
    • California, Texas and Florida rank as the top three states for both segments
    • Half of the counties in California will see their senior population increase over the next 2 years; 11 counties will see their 65+ population grow by 150% and for those 85+ years old by nearly 300%
  • Education is important to Vets and Seniors – they are smart consumers!
    • More Vets than non–Vets earn a high school and advanced degrees
    • By the time they are 65, seniors will have earned their “MIL” (masters in life) They’re equipped with 45 years of job skills!
    • College graduation rates for women Vets out-pace civilian females by a 30% to 25% margin
  • Seniors and Vets believe in staying in the workforce and earning a living:
    • Seniors aged 65 -74 are projected to grow the working ranks by 4.5% by 2024 vs. younger workers aged 18-25, where a drop of 1.6% is estimated
    • Vets median HH income is $35,376 vs. non-vet HH income at $24,521
  • Working seniors and Vets seek new career paths by leveraging the training they received in the military or non-military workplace.
    • After 40+ years in the workforce, seniors often take their career experience and pursue a passion or start a second career. Others volunteer to share their knowledge and wisdom.
    • Vets leave the service with training and experience that make them desired employees –skilled, disciplined, respectful of authority and focused on completing the task
  • Value and discounts are an important driver to both seniors and Vets. And they do their homework to make informed purchase decisions.
    • More than most, they care about the mission of the organization and the integrity and level of service the company delivers.

Brand marketers looking to initiate a senior strategy have examples all around them when it comes to targeting a segment like Vets. Lowe’s offer 10% discounts for everyday purchases made by Vets which totals nearly a billion dollars in savings annually. But the impact on Lowe’s bottom-line and customer loyalty is significantly more. That’s what we call a win-win situation!

Photo by Roberto Galan

The Importance of Having the Right Resources When Targeting California’s Seniors


When it comes to marketing to California’s seniors, it takes one to know one!

The opportunity is there. 7,000,000 California seniors who are mostly ignored or disrespected by marketers. With more buying power than any other demographic segment, marketers are just now beginning to realize the huge potential of senior consumers and the importance of getting their message to them ahead of their competitors. But knowing about the potential is only half the battle. Having the right resources, with a knowledge and sensitivity to the target audience, is critical to successful selling.

As for me, being referred to as a “senior” doesn’t bother me. After all, I share some common characteristics with this consumer segment including:

  • I’m 65 years old, but think of myself as 10 to 15 years younger (until I’m buying something online and need to scroll and scroll downward to find 1953)
  • I’m still working and don’t plan on stopping any time soon
  • I’ve become less brand loyal and less status conscious
  • I expect deals and discounts. And I’m not embarrassed using coupons.
  • Now that the kids are out of the house, my wife and I downsized and simplified
  • I exercise more and eat healthier than ever
  • I get most of my news online, but still enjoy an occasional newspaper
  • I’m nostalgic about music and events of my youth, but try to stay current and contemporary

As far as the advertising and marketing industry is concerned, too many ad agencies believe that older people don’t understand social media, they’re too expensive, and they need a younger staff to work on large, youth-oriented categories such as fast food, soft drinks, beer, video games, and telecommunications. According to Nancy Martin, Director-talent at TBWA,

“There’s a commonly held conception that to be creative, you need to know what’s hot, what music is cool, what website is all the rage, and with age, you become less aware of those things by and large”

That might explain why the average age of the staff in ad agencies is 38 and why more than 60% of employees in the ad industry are 25-44. What’s more, the average age of a creative is 27, and just 5% of agency employees are over 50.(Forbes Magazine) Meanwhile, there’s a large and skilled talent pool consisting of older advertising professionals that has been pushed out of the business. No wonder 32% of advertising professionals say they experienced ageism and 79% say they work in an ageist industry.

Assuming there’s some truth to younger employees being a better fit for products aimed at younger consumers, there are still huge brands and companies that market (or should market) to consumers aged 55+. After all, seniors represent half of the population and control over 50% of the nation’s disposable income. And importantly, they account for $46 trillion in wealth! (Forbes Magazine) It’s time for CMOs to question the experience of their resources for their older customers and time for older and experienced advertising and marketing professionals to help them understand and communicate to this large, untapped, and growing demographic.

Photo by Benjamin Morris

Career Longevity Steps CMOs Should Consider


The biggest demo is waiting to be courted – California seniors!

A Harvard Business Review study notes that CMOs can expect on average 4.1 years on the job. That’s frightening, given the impact of losing a gig that according to Ad Age, pays major brand CMOs $1.5 million a year in salary and benefits.

CMOs could improve their job security:

  • Google ‘seniors economic power’ – prepare to find the largest cohort of consumers and why they’ve been underserved by marketers.
  • Embrace 55-85 as the new 18-49 demo
  • Look at senior spending categories (not just healthcare) and find a sweet spot for your brand
  • Get it out of your head that everyone 65 years-old retires
  • Act like you’re starting in marketing all over again – be smart, be bold, be original!

Today’s CMO jobs are tough, if not tougher, than it was when I was CMO for McDonald’s and Warner Bros. Somehow, that title is the first to take the hit, regardless of the department leading the initiative. That’s just the way it is.

But, a great CMO is more than a marketer. Their # 1 job, customer acquisition, comes from being a forensic accountant, private investigator,  possessing innate curiousity, and a voracious student of trends others may not discover until they’ve become norms.

The demographic phenomenon known as the “silver tsunami”, will expand a brand’s market share dominance and could extend a CMO’s job tenure. The number ofCalifornia seniors  will increase 87% over the next two decades. As they’ve hit the magic retirement age, they’re disrupting convention by staying in the workforce.

Joseph Coughlin, founder of the MIT AgeLab and author of The Longevity Economy, describes the problem marketers are having getting their heads around the enormity of this age group

“Oldness as a social construct is at odds with the reality that constrains how we live after middle age and stifles business thinking on how to best serve a group of consumers, workers and innovators that is growing larger and wealthier with every passing day.”

This definition succinctly captures the starting point CMOs can undertake to proactively move their company’s portfolio into consideration for consumers that have another 25+ years of spending ahead of them. And they control 70% of the nation’s disposable income!

California is particularly poised as the best state to develop dedicated senior plans.With a projected 112% increase in senior growth, this segment is increasing at twice the rate of any other state.

  • They’re more active and in better shape. A 65-year old can expect another 20 years of life.  And it’s even longer for women.
  • Shopping online is not just for the young. 70% of seniors are e-commerce users.
  • The number of traditional TV viewing seniors approaches 2/3’s of the population, but streaming as an option is gaining quickly with 78% being internet users.
  • Over 50% aged 55-64 use streaming services.

Finding what senior consumers want is really a simple exercise. Dig into what they’re doing today to stay in shape, earn a paycheck, make a difference in their community and enjoying the fruits of their labor. Study the brands late 30 and 40-year olds were once loyal to and see if they’re still loyal. Tailoring your message to support  seniors who are experiencing service or product innovations will get results. Done right, you may need to ween yourself off marketing to millennials. After all, they don’t have all or even most of the money.

Photo by Monkey Business Images

CMOs Can Build a Winning California Senior Strategy by Targeting Caregivers


Women aren’t just the caregiver, they’re the money managers too!

Every day for the next 20 years, 10,000 people in the U.S. will turn 65. Many will seek the help of a caregiver. Most will want to “age in place” and stay in their own home. Women will be the likely choice to provide the care and make their home the alternative to a senior care facility.

This fact alone should encourage CMOs to evaluate their brand offering with a senior strategy in mind and aimed at California seniors. And it starts with caregivers.

Why are women called The Chief Consumption Officers for the elderly?

  • They control 80%of the household wealth –
  • They outlive men, on average, by 7 years.
  • At 65 years old, their life expectancy is an additional 20+ more years.
  • Women will continue to consume and shop long after the passing of their husband
  • While some men act as caregivers, largely as the handyman, women are the nurturers – stemming from their maternal duties parenting.
  • The instinct to care for a child is essentially the same as caring for an adult- feeding, bathing, dressing and driving

Aging and women are at ease together because women possess the responsibility gene more so than men. Long before Siri or Alexia, there was the woman of the household… the one doing the chores, nursing, shopping, carpooling, banking and overseeing the repairs and attending to the needs and happiness of the family.

It’s not just hands-on care: 8 percent of baby boomers, 13 percent of Generation X and 19 percent of millennials are financially supporting a parent to the tune of $12,000 a year, according to a survey of 1,000 adults released this summer from TD Ameritrade.

Of the two sexes,  the women is the natural planner.  It has been said, when it comes to retirement, men are looking forward to relaxing – women are planning to grow old. 

Which is how they approach the role of caregiver. They develop a plan – what to buy, where to shop, and how to make that budget last. For CMOs, this consumer behavior is easy to track and target. By focusing on the women controlling the plan, the opportunities open up every day for new product entries.

But with the growing need for caregiving, there is both a talent pool issue and a silver lining on the horizon.

According to an AARP Public Policy Institute study, the ratio of caregivers to adults is dropping – now at 7 to 1. By 2030, this number nearly cuts in half to a ratio of 4 to 1. Caregiver tools and services are waiting to be innovated or created from an existing brand, with a senior benefit and dedicated marketing commitment. One opportunity could focus on California caregiver recruitment and retention. For those willing to follow the money, the potential is real.

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California Seniors are Driving Well into their 80’s and Car Dealers are Noticing!


What CMOs can learn from more years of consumption on the road ahead.

Few things are more devastating when you age than giving up your driving privileges. For the family, it means more shuttle duties. But to the senior, it can shorten their life. From your 16th birthday, or whatever the age you attained your driver’s license, your California driver’s license was literally your declaration of independence.

CMOs will be happy to discover that older drivers are not hitting the brakes anytime soon. And with the economic power and sheer population size of California, seniors can expect to drive well past their 80’s.

In the US., drivers 70+ represent 11% of the total population. That’s huge because mobility means money. And seniors hold 50% of the country’s wealth. The ability to continue driving means continuing to lead virtually the same life, consuming as they did in their 40’s and 50’s. California exceeds every data point that involves the automobile. This includes drive-thru restaurants, banks, grocery stores, gas stations, malls, etc. And the car or truck relies on money to stay on the road – from tires to insurance.

With the coming age wave, the opportunity with senior driver independence is only growing.

It’s not surprising the auto dealer business in California outperforms all states.

  • According to NADA data – California’s 1333 dealers have annual revenue of $120 billion
  • California drivers hold 12% of all registered cars in the country.

These data points speak directly to the auto ecosystem and the impact California seniors are having on the economy. And it’s going to get even better as the growth in senior drivers continues.

California, like most states, encourages longevity in one’s driving privileges. Licenses are renewed every five years, and until age 70 drivers may automatically be granted two five-year renewals by mail or online. Starting at 70, drivers must renew in person, taking a written test and eye exam.

And the data supports the accident rate among seniors/boomers to be dropping. And California Senior drivers are safer than all others on the road. Here are the key reasons:

  • They obey the speed limits and are less distracted
  • They tend not to drink or text while driving
  • Seniors drive fewer miles – 45% fewer annually than a 40-year-old
  • Seniors drive primarily during daylight hours

Auto insurance costs for seniors reflect their safer statistics on the road.

The average insurance quote for a 21-year-old is $2,124, while the average for someone aged 60 to 64 is $1,159. And the rate only goes up to $1,381 for someone 80 to 84.

Since 1997, Baby Boomers have swelled the 70+ population, but car accident fatalities per capita among older people has decreased 47%. And since 1975 it is now at its lowest level.

The Silver Rush in California is being driven in part by aging drivers. Having the freedom to go and shop wherever they choose should accelerate marketer’s decisions to join this “Silver Rush” now. It should be quite a ride.

Photo By Clark 1948 Cadillac via photopin (license)

5 Reasons to Start Your California Seniors Marketing Strategy


CMOs should start mining the “Silver Rush” now.

The opportunity to capture share and revenue from California seniors is shocking. Shocking for its size and population of over 7,000,000 and shocking for the spending power they control which is ¾’s of the wealth in the U.S. But wait there’s more! Beyond the obvious categories of healthcare, retirement services and travel, seniors receive approximately 10% of the projected 2018 U.S. ad budget – $232 billion. And that’s way lower than it should be!

Life expectancy for those in their mid-60’s has increased to nearly 20 years.  CMOs must look beyond their 18-49 comfort zone and develop a strategy to embrace the largest audience in the country. In other words, follow the money.

Here are 5 key reasons seniors rule:

  1. Birthrates have fallen. It is projected that the global population will plateau in the next 25 to 50 years at 10 billion.
  2. People are living longer – 20 years + longer than someone born in 1900.
  3. Seniors are healthier than ever – especially in countries with available healthcare and the money or government policies to pay for it.
  4. People are wealthier –the 50+ own  50% of the wealth in the U.S.
  5. Staying in the workforce longer – leads to a higher 65+ year-old participation.

Contrary to what many believe, seniors are not a homogenous group. They include the rich, poor, active and disabled. Most desire to stay in their home. Others chose to move into  senior communities. And depending on their health status, they remain active consumers. Whatever your brand category, ask yourself this. Would a line extension or product innovation that serves a genuine solution to an aging consumer impact growth? Have you looked closer at your strategic planning to expand your target to seniors with dedicated, relevant and respectful communication?

California, the 6th largest economic power in the world, is a smart place to start. And ESRI has just the tool to begin the journey. ESRI has spent the past 30 years linking location to market potential. Lifestyle segmentation through their tapestry segmentation identifies the shopping needs and characteristics of 5 distinct senior groups.

ESRI’s tapestry identifies key measures at the cash register, impacted by life stages seniors go through as they consider housing, shopping, leisure activities and healthcare options. Understanding what seniors are spending their money on and where it fits in their priorities will help marketers identify concepts and specific markets for testing. Here are some target segments to consider:

  • Prosperous empty nesters – they have the money and the time
  • Retirement communities – they live in a new home among fellow aging residents
  • The Elders – these are at the older end – 70 to late 80 segment
  • Senior Sun Seekers – they are driven by better weather and warm climates
  • Social Security Set – fixed income seniors who still spend, although with fewer dollars

California seniors are represented across each of these 5 segments. Targeting each, according to the target’s economic and lifestyle attributes, will identify where to start the senior strategy based on your product and those within the category.

Mining for your share of the California “Silver Rush” requires some additional work. But the rewards that come from increased customer loyalty will extend the “customer for life” model you practiced years ago. And it promises to pay off.

And here’s more good news. Unlike the millennial, California seniors don’t shy away from advertising. They embrace information that solves a problem and is clearly and specifically created for them. In return, CMOs get an experienced consumer with money to spend and time to become a brand loyalist all over again.

Photo by Darren Baker

California Seniors – “What’s in their wallet?”


CMOs should consider these 5 dominant forces in their senior strategy development.

They are the aging consumers incorrectly lumped into the ‘old age bucket’. A bucket that labels anyone 65 or older as being on their way to a planned community, assisted living, or worse. And they’re not considered big shoppers. Really?

Every year in the U.S., seniors make informed purchase decisions spending up to $15 trillion dollars.

Since the age wave of 65+ is heading toward 100 million in the next 25 years, here’s more proof why targeting California seniors is a CMO’s best bet:

  • Between 1990 and 2020, an estimated 112% increase in California seniors will occur.
  • California’s senior growth rate is two times faster than any other state the U.S.
  • The growth rate in eleven California counties will exceed 150%

As you ponder where to begin your senior marketing strategy, consider this McKinsey study on the 5 dominant forces over the next 12 years that will effect the consumer landscape.

  1. Changing face of the consumer – it’s all about the aging population explosion
  2. Evolving geopolitical dynamics – economic power shift moves to the 65+
  3. New patterns of personal consumption – focus on health and wellness
  4. Technological advancements- by 2030, 3 out of 4 consumers will own a connected mobile device
  5. Structural Industry shifts – direct to consumer purchasing shifting toward seniors

The California Silver Rush is real. The economic contribution seniors play in the state’s economy should lead any CMO currently targeting the 18-49 to develop a senior strategy – just as was done decades ago for Hispanic, African-American and multicultural consumer segments.

As a CMO, few initiatives are more critical to the success of your brand and your job longevity than more customer acquisition.

Consider these characteristics of the California senior-dedicated strategy and budget:

  • They control the majority of the wealth/savings/assets in the state
  • They have more experience as consumers
  • They have been shoppers for ½ a century – they’re savvy and do their homework
  • Unlike millennials, they see advertising as a service in deciding where and what to buy
  • There’s a good chance they were customers of yours in the past. Are they still?

CMOs must reallocate their resources and move past the traditional barriers to growth and consumer age. They would be wise to go beyond the expected 18-49 target cutoff. In California, seniors are lining up to finally spend their nest egg.

Photo by Wavebreak Media

Targeting California Seniors? CMOs Should Pick Women Over Men.


Women are California seniors’ economic power. Period!

Joseph F. Coughlin’s powerful book on aging and its implications on marketing, The Longevity Economy, said it best,

“The future is female.”

For California brands and services, the future is in California senior females. Overall, California’s female population is slightly more than half the state’s total 38 million–over 16 million women. Soon the largest segment will be women who are 50 and older.

We understand that for many CMOs, business is status quo – targeting the tried and true 18-49 year olds. But the huge age wave of seniors representing rich opportunities is knocking down the door and about to change the way products have been marketed. CMOs need to wake up and get started before their competitors beat them to it.

50+ Women are good for business:

  • Longevity is on the side of the female
  • Life expectancy means they’ll be potential customers 7 years longer than men
  • Women, even today, manage most of the household financial duties and the majority of upkeep around the house, shopping, etc.
  • They are on an empowerment upswing, gaining more access to senior leadership positions and larger salaries
  • Women tend to be the caregiver to other family members – this requires shopping across segments and industries.

Boston Consulting states that just 15% of companies have any sort of marketing or business strategy focused on older adults. Not shocking until you see it expressed in terms of who’s being targeted. Advertisers spend 500% more on millennials than on all other age groups combined. With California leading in virtually every demographic or economics statistic, women as consumers are the dominate force in California and this includes those 50+ and over.

All of this makes females the easiest place to start a focus on a senior  strategy in California. Women are better consumers given their dual duties in the workplace and at home. They are better shoppers out of necessity, having carried shopping duties due to the fact they are better, smarter, and more experienced shoppers. And their longevity makes the marketing investment worth every penny.

Tom Peters pointed out 36 years ago in, In Search of Excellence/’82, “women are the prime decision-makers in 94% of major spending decisions”  Women buy. Women rule. But it doesn’t stop there. They also influence or make:

  • Vacation decisions
  • House purchase decisions
  • D.I.Y home project decisions
  • Home electronics decisions
  • Home computer decisions
  • Car purchase decisions, (they are influential in 90%)
  • Bank account decisions
  • Household investment decisions
  • Small business loans and business starts decisions
  • Health care decisions

Retirement prospects for men focus around leisure and relaxation. Women are planning to grow old. This means they focus on solving the needs and challenges that come with living longer. Today’s marketers should make a concerted effort to address the different attitude of women and men as they approach retirement.

The time is now to build a California senior strategy. Women hold most of the cards and cash, which makes targeting them the best first step.

Photo by Monkey Business Images

History Repeats Itself. California’s “Silver Rush” for Seniors is on. 


In 1848, they were called California prospectors – today, they’re called CMOs

The history of California is all about the Gold Rush. 1848 Sutter’s Mill. Eureka! You know the story. When James Marshall discovered gold in January, ’48 the rush was on. Today it should be called the “Silver Rush” and the mining should be done by CMOs.

California experienced its first immigration wave from prospectors and business opportunists from around the world. Three quarters of the men in San Francisco left the city to pan for their fortune. Ironically, those who benefited the most financially were not the miners but rather than merchants who really struck it rich, selling what was needed to prospect for gold.

The “Silver Rush” is set to dwarf the riches unearthed in the 1850’s as our aging population is set to live longer and healthier and spend more than ever as they do. Consider this:

  • In 1900, life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.
  • Today, it’s 80. Researchers predict ½ of babies born today will live to 100.
  • Healthier aging today will add 20 years to a senior’s life.
  • Better medicine, healthier habits, and active, working seniors are set to spend trillions as they age.

California Seniors will be the largest demographic group in the near future. The impact on the world’s 5th largest economy is waiting for CMOs to prospect directly to Californians whose longevity stats, coupled with spending power, mean rich targets of opportunity for CMOs prepared to commit dedicated messaging to them.

The retirement age is nothing more than a number as seniors are continuing to work or start second careers. Marketers have the best tools on earth to better target these seniors and yet, to date, most traditional brands are underspending against them, using the same creative as they use for younger consumers, or ignoring them altogether.

Just as prospectors 150 years ago needed tools to unearth a vein of gold or minerals containing silver, the future is waiting for CMOs who venture out West to mine the richest deposits of age, wisdom, and wealth in history. History can repeat itself in very positive ways for those who learn from it.

Photo by the National Library of Ireland on The Commons The Quays in Sligo via photopin (license)

About Brad Ball

Co-Author of The Silver Rush: Marketing to the California Senior; Partner Silver Advertising- former- CMO SkyZone; VP Entetainment NASCAR, President Theatrical Marketing Warner Bros;CMO McDonald’s, Partner DBC Advertising.

photo credit: State Library of Queensland, Australia Miners working in a gold mine at Gympie, Queensland Miners Gympie Qld via photopin (license)