Rules for Reaching Older Customers
Arrogance is a no-no and upbeat messages a must when advertising to
the mature market
In market-research circles, old stereotypes about old age are falling
by the wayside. Instead, researchers are taking a serious look at what really
does interest and motivate the old or shall we say the late-adult
consumer. It's a lot more than shuffleboard, bingo and early-bird specials.
It turns out the 50-plus crowd (yes, it's a cruel definition of old age,
but the one used for much market research) is much more varied than younger
segments of the market, according to an article in The Journal of Consumer
Marketing.They're more "diverse and idiosyncratic," the article
says. That's because they're less influenced by what others think of them.
Without the herd instinct that often guides younger people, they're free
to do their own thing.
That said, though, there are some generalizations that can be made about
Older people absorb advertising messages differently than younger ones
do, the article says. They don't like the short, terse statements found
in much ad copy. Such writing exasperates them. Nor do they like having
a product's benefits precisely spelled out it smacks of condescension
and makes them feel the advertiser is trying to dictate to them. (The article
cites the Quaker Oats slogan, "Oh, what these oats can do," as
an example of the kind of open-to-interpretation message that older consumers
cotton to.) In short, they don't like anything that suggests arrogance on
the part of the advertiser.
What they do like is ads that involve them emotionally, especially ones
that do so through stories of some sort. They like to establish a relationship
with the marketer, a sense of trust and familiarity, before being given
large amounts of product information. Once they're ready to consider a purchase,
they like to do so for quite a while. Older customers spend more time than
younger ones mulling over a product's attibutes before deciding whether
One final point: Older consumers, contrary to what many young people
believe, tend to be satisfied with their lives and optimistic about the
future, the article says. They like advertisements reflecting their rosy
frame of mind, incorporating graphics with rich, vibrant colors and bold,
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.