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Direct Response Marketing

My Generation: Learn to Talk With New Seniors Before Trying to Sell Them

1 Dec, 2010 By: Donald L. Potter Response


In the July and October issues of Response, I discussed the size and scope of the 65-and-older market, their thinking and behavior, along with that of the cutting-edge boomers who will soon swell their ranks. They represent the fastest-growing consumer group in America and around the world. This article wraps up the three-part series by looking at messaging and the need to build a relationship with New Seniors before trying to sell them something.

Remember, these individuals do not consider themselves to be seniors — certainly nothing like seniors of old. New Seniors look at least five years younger than their age, feel 10 years younger and are convinced they can do anything someone 15 years their junior can do. In fact, many still work or would if the opportunity presented itself. Why not? These folks have a third of their lives or more ahead of them. So, don’t treat them as if they are headed for the elephants’ graveyard.

Stages of Life

As they travel through this next part of life’s adventure, New Seniors will encounter different stages. Early on they will make the big adjustment of leaving the workforce and seek to replace this event with other activities. Later there will be financial considerations and health challenges to confront. And, finally they must address the fact that no one gets out of here alive.

These life phases mean different products will be appropriate at different points in the continuum. The most effective ads will show people several years younger than their age, doing things younger adults do and enjoying it more. Viagra knew what it was doing. The commercials went from an older spokesman (former Sen. Bob Dole) to everyday older people to retired sports personalities to younger (under 65) people.

Although those reaching the age of 65 have gained confidence in themselves over the years, they do have fears. Two of these are not related to survival or any creature comforts. One is male-oriented, while the other is more likely to affect women. These fears are a powerful influence in the way people deal with the aging process. Men fear losing power; women fear being invisible. These are not separate issues, rather they are simply opposite sides of the same coin: control. Address these concerns through advertising and, if the product or service delivers, you’ve got a winner.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Although New Seniors are more homogeneous than many other segments, when it comes to personal values and concerns, one size does not fit all. Where it may not be feasible to tailor products and services for individual markets, it is possible to divide the media and the advertising message into segments for greater effectiveness.

Not all New Seniors are married nor the same religion, race or political persuasion. This should not be surprising. You used to target these same people when they were younger and — to some marketers — a more desirable audience. The demographics haven’t changed from 10 or 20 years ago when these folks were in their forties and fifties.

However, the psychographics and sociographics have evolved. Individuals tend to be mellow and embrace the traditional values of their youth. This attitude is manifested by accepting others, caring, and deeper relationships plus a willingness to mentor and help younger people. Will your DRTV product or service help the New Senior accomplish these new goals?

New Seniors have years of experience as consumers. Because they are adept in making buying decisions, they like the facts. Symbolism and trendy creative executions leave them cold.

Showing a real understanding of New Seniors suggests you know what they want. This goes a long way in breaking down any barriers, and puts you in the position of being a friend. And, being a friend is the best way to sell those 65 and older. Taking this concept a step further, delivering on your sales promise is the only way to become a trusted friend — one New Seniors will feel comfortable buying from again and again. ■


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