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My Generation: What You Need to Know About 'New Seniors' in Order to Sell Them

18 Oct, 2010 By: Donald L. Potter Response

The first article in this three-part series (Response, July) identified why the 65-plus market offers big sales potential for DRTV products. The size of the market today is an impressive 30 million consumers with a meaningful escalation coming in 2011 and continuing through 2030. During this period, Baby Boomers will turn 65 at the rate of one every ten seconds until all 76 million of them reach this milestone. So it’s time to develop plans for tapping into this older, wiser and wealthier market: “New Seniors.”

While many “New Seniors” are retired, or will soon be, they are not old. Think of them this way or, worse yet, communicate this attitude and you’ll turn them off — maybe forever. Today, those older than 65 are vital and active within their families, their circle of friends and their communities. These “New Seniors” no longer are concerned about pleasing and impressing others or validating themselves. They are not defined by job titles and other labels.

“New Seniors” understand who they are, a continuing process, and how they feel about things. These feelings cover a wide range of subjects from relationships, to being of service to others, all the way to where they stand on political issues. Once they accept being 65, these individuals tend to adjust to this new phase of life by redefining themselves and determining where they fit in the bigger picture rather than being concerned about what’s in it for them. Some of the “me generation” will have difficulty with this aspect, but those who have already traveled this road are there to help.

Modern medicine has made it possible for people to live longer. So, “New Seniors” are likely to be around long enough to be old seniors. This means many of them will be earning incomes, above and beyond any retirement savings they may have, for years to come. Working allows them to maintain a positive attitude about life and feel they can still make a contribution. Of course, making money is another reason for “New Seniors” to work. The sense of independence that comes with financial freedom translates into their built-in desire to consume.

These Americans were the early adopters and innovators of their younger days. They grew up in the “golden age” of television. This dynamic medium was part-babysitter, part-teacher and part-salesman. They learned early on to ask their moms to buy whatever items were advertised on the after-school shows and the Saturday morning cartoons. When they were earning allowances, the programs changed and their propensity to want the advertised brands increased due in part to that great sales tool known as peer pressure.

Advertising is as much a part of their lives as eating and sleeping. Over the years, these consumers learned how to spot a bogus pitch and steer clear of the brand, or if the advertising was effective enough to get them to buy but the product didn’t deliver, they would not re-purchase the item and would avoid the company marketing it. The peer pressure that caused them to buy when they were young was refined into word-of-mouth campaigns, which spread virally between family and friends to the joy or dismay of many advertisers.

Most “New Seniors” are empty-nesters, with no children at home. Today, though, there is an increasing number who have parents living with them, and adult children may move back into the house after a divorce or a job loss. Both these situations are considered short term. With the majority not having family at home, purchasing decisions naturally focus on themselves. In the DRTV arena, household items and crafts are particularly appealing to “New Seniors.” And, they love buy-one-get-one-free offers, which allow the shopper to order an additional product at no extra cost for grown children or, when appropriate, a grandchild.

The 65-plus consumer is willing to buy health care items, travel packages, even funeral arrangements — plus a host of other products sold via the DRTV model. And, since they are the fastest growing segment on the Internet, don’t look for all their sales to be generated through the call center. Many of them are quite comfortable buying online. The challenge is to get these savvy consumers to take action. n

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