Professional Jeweler Archive: A Golden Opportunity

March 2005

Cover Focus | 60+


A Golden Opportunity

If you still think seniors are excessively frugal or too set in their ways to buy jewelry, you're missing a chance to make sales

By Ellen Fructman


I’m having a senior moment. And so should you. Between 2005 and 2030, the number of Americans age 60 and older will grow by 81%, while those ages 18-59 will grow only 7%, according to Senior Market Resource.

Seniors control 70% of the disposable income in the United States. Yet less than 10% of today’s advertising focuses on members of this demographic.

Perhaps you need to shave a little budget money from that hard-to-profit-from engagement crowd and consider this:

  • Seniors spend 74% more on a typical vacation than people ages 18-49.
  • They buy 41% of all new cars and 80% of new luxury cars.
  • Seniors own more homes than any other age group.
  • They earn more than $900 billion in income.
  • Seniors spend over $7 billion online, logging more hours on the Internet than teenagers.
  • 50% own personal computers, 92% have shopped on-line and 78% have bought on-line.

Redefining Older

Seniors today are not the seniors of yesteryear. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are redefining the world “old” and are influencing their elders from the “Greatest Generation” too. If you refer to people 85 years and older, it’s fair demographically to call them elderly. However, the bulk of today’s senior market includes people who are active, in good health, dynamic, mobile and still buying lots of stuff!

If you’re in the luxury retail business and you’re not directing a fair amount of your marketing to this age group, you’re losing some of the best paying and loyal consumers. According to AARP, the Washington, DC-based advocacy group for people over 50, older consumers are more likely than younger ones to buy higher-priced brands and less likely to go looking for a cheaper price.

For those of you who think this age group isn’t in the market for jewelry, think again. They usually want and need some of the same things as their younger counterparts – perhaps in different quantities or quality. More than 60% of them say quality is the most important factor in choosing a brand. Younger seniors, especially, have a huge discretionary purchase history and are inclined to buy. That’s good news for you.

Reaching Them

To start, you must target your message. Make sure a percentage of your media buy is segmented to an older audience. Research shows a greater number of seniors than other demographic groups tune in to radio during early morning. For television, the audience peaks during the early evening. News is extremely important to this demographic. Keep the sound in check with your radio or TV ads, however, because background music can interfere with your message, says Dr. David J. Demko of AgeVenture Syndicated News Service, Boca Raton, FL. Remember older consumers are beginning to cope with hearing loss.

Older consumers still read too – a lot. They like newspapers, brochures and newsletters. As avid Internet users, they check e-mail messages too. Unlike many 20-, 30- and 40-something consumers, they also read their direct mail.

Review your creative content. Is the type large enough in your ads? Are your layouts uncluttered and easy to read? “The worst thing you can do is target seniors with a flier on a glossy piece of paper,” says Kurt Medina, president of Medina Associates, an agency in Rose Valley, PA. “Seniors have a higher sensitivity to glare.” It’s important to hand out your business cards to older buyers, too, but can an older person actually read the type? Phone numbers are particularly difficult to discern as eyes age.

Show older people wearing jewelry in your ads so your customers can relate. They also pay attention to testimonials, longevity in business and community involvement. They are a generation built on strong work ethics and the common good. They want to know you before they do business with you – and the more information the better. Tell them more than your competition and you’ll get not only the opportunity, but also the sale.

There you have it: a senior moment worth remembering. I also heard that 50 is the new 40. Now if someone will only tell my body!

The Diamond Trading Co. hasn’t forgotten to target older buyers in its new ad campaign for anniversary diamonds.
Marketers suggest depicting older consumers 10-15 years younger than their chronological age, which is how they think of themselves. They also still read direct mail, such as this piece pitching the magazine More, for women over 40.

Ellen Fruchtman is president of Fruchtman Marketing, a marketing company specializing in advertising, public relations and media planning for jewelers and jewelry manufacturers across the country. Contact her at (800) 481-3520 or ellen@fruchtman.com.

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications