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20 Special insights into
The mature market, which I define as people over the age of 55, is so large—and growing larger by the day, with baby boomers poised to enter it—that it can no longer be categorized as a niche market. This is an enormous group—the fastest-growing group of potential customers in the world, with incredible buying power.
Because seniors prefer to be regarded as individuals, direct marketing, which is individualized by its very nature, has an automatic advantage over other types of marketing. Here are 20 special insights that will help you market more successfully to this ever-increasing segment of the population.
Most market segments find a majority of their constituency to be seniors. In fact, seniors account for 40% of total consumer demand. They constitute the majority of mail-order buyers, contributors and subscribers.
Seniors are the most affluent segment of our society. Fifty-five percent of all depositors in financial institutions, for example, and 77% of all assets in the United States are owned by individuals over the age of 55. Seniors have five times the net worth of the average American.
Seniors are savvy consumers, and they are just like every other human being. They care about three things: Me, Myself and I.
The senior market is composed of many subgroups. They are identifiable by three main groups: pre-retirees (people between 55 and 62), active retirees (63 to 74) and seniors (75 and over). Your marketing should differ accordingly for each group.
Advertising must relate to the experiential background of the mature market. A senior’s lifetime of experiences is an important element in designing your offer. These experiences should be acknowledged if you hope to motivate the mature consumer to buy. Nostalgia and clichés can be utilized profitably. Instead of modern jargon and images, use language and references to fond memories with which seniors can identify.
Personalize the selling/buying process as much as possible and build rapport. Be aware of the senior ideal, as opposed to the mass-market ideal. Seniors prefer to be regarded as individuals. Their buying history began at a time when merchants knew them personally. This is the last group of people in our society to enjoy personalized relationships with the people who provided them with goods and services. Unlike the generations that have followed, the mature market is not a product of an impersonal, mass-produced world.
Use examples instead of statistics. Seniors are unimpressed with numbers. They are, however, impressed with examples of an individual with whom they can identify, who uses a certain product or service. An example might be a celebrity or other recognizable individual who shares that: “I use it,” or “I wear it,” or “I drive it,” or “I drink it.”
Resistance to change and dedication to tradition are important characteristics of the senior market. Avoid the suggestion of change and newness as much as possible. For example, market your products as simple to use, nondisruptive to one’s lifestyle and something that makes life more comfortable.
The idea of exclusivity works well with seniors. Members of the mature market are especially prone to buying products and services that aren’t necessarily available to everyone.
Some seniors feel that their age gives them status, while others feel crushed by the aging process. Be aware of these dichotomous perceptions as you create your advertising. Also, be aware that even though 70% of people over 70 have some sort of chronic condition, they tend not to dwell on it, and neither should marketers.
Since their buying habits are conservative and they want to be in control of the buying decision process, the mature market is more likely to buy if you use powerful, specific “reasons why” copy. Copy that helps them make a decision will do better than copy that tries to hype itself or push the mature consumer into buying.
Seniors have had years and years to acquire a high level of skepticism. Prove your claim with endorsements and testimonials. Also, use positive but realistic images rather than the more common “plastic” images of a smiling older couple.
Members of the mature market are extremely cautious about the buying process. As major targets of rip-off artists, seniors tend to be more distrustful than other segments of the market. They don’t like to give out their credit card number, many refuse to order via Toll-Free numbers and they are on the lookout for anything that seems like a rip-off.
Avoid any confusion. The wording of your mailing or advertisement must be clear and straightforward.
Seniors like to receive mail. One of the major blunders direct mail marketers make is thinking that members of the mature market aren’t willing to read, or are unable to understand or comprehend. In fact, they are one of the most responsive groups to this marketing medium. They look forward to receiving mail and read it carefully. Seniors are willing to read longer letters, longer copy and they are the best mail-order buyers in terms of frequency, multiple purchases and higher dollar amounts. That’s why an informational approach can be so successful with seniors.
Use premiums in your advertising. Seniors appreciate added value, special offers, coupons, free gifts, samples and, of course, discounts. As in any direct marketing campaign, the premium should be related to the primary product being sold.
Seniors have problems with physical limitations to varying degrees. For example, many have trouble with eyesight. But, the answer isn’t to avoid marketing to them. The answer is to adjust the marketing piece by avoiding small type, crammed type and crowded copy. You’ll increase your response if you use 10-, 11-, or 12-point type or larger in all communications.
Here are a few additional hints. When designing printed material for the mature market, keep in mind that turning pages can be difficult. Don’t complicate the offer. Make the act of responding easy by simplifying the response device and providing ample room to make entries.
The use of videos, interactive CD-ROMs and DVDs, in recent times, has been a real boon in marketing to seniors. Seniors will watch videos and DVDs and respond very positively to them.
Seniors respond positively to direct response television and radio. This is exemplified in the success being enjoyed by insurance
One reason infomercials are effective, when aimed at this group, is that the format is more leisurely and more step-by-step. This ties in with Insight #11, reinforcing the fact that seniors want to feel that they are making the decision to buy gradually and without coercion. Direct response radio—primarily in the talk and news genres—also produces good results.
The hot markets for the next 10 to 15 years for this segment of the population are service-oriented. They consist of travel, health and fitness, household services, family fun, convenience, information services, investment and financial services, safety and security. Grandparenting represents an enormous additional marketing opportunity.
The mature, or senior, market is enormous and growing dramatically in size and affluence each year. In fact, today, baby boomers (who are quickly becoming seniors) are becoming “empty-nesters,” as their children leave home to start households of their own.
As a result, there will be a 20% increase in the number of homes without children under 18 present, a jump from 35.8 million today to 45.7 million in the next 5 years. This represents a profound shift in needs, wants and preferences—as baby boomers continue to be the center of attention in the marketplace as empty-nesters, and as they cause the senior segment of the marketplace to swell
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