Targeting Seniors Will Attract All Customers
You might have mixed emotions while reading our cover story about targeting consumers over 60. Paul McCartneys appearance as the half-time entertainment at the Super Bowl notwithstanding, most consumer product promoters dont think older people are hip or cool. Targeting them reduces your businesss sex appeal, you might worry. Not in the age of Viagra.
Seniors have money, more today than at any other time in our nations history. Rising real estate values, various run-ups in the stock market and better health mean affluent 60+ consumers arent acting like the penny-pinching, stay-at-home stereotype of previous seniors. Theyre still buying luxuries if you give them emotion-driven reasons to do so (such as romance and sex). This will only become more true when those insatiable fountain-of-youth buyers in the Baby Boom begin hitting 60 next year.
To reach seniors, act like theyre still part of the human race by depicting them in your ads sometimes. The Diamond Trading Co.s new anniversary diamond campaign titled I Forever Do got it just right with one of its collage ads showing a couple celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary with a three-stone ring (page 30).
De Beers isnt the only marketer figuring out seniors are an incredible and growing selling opportunity. More and more older attractive actors and models are in ad campaigns and other popular culture events even movies.
One key to appealing to seniors, ironically, is depicting them as 10-15 years younger than they are, say marketers. I suspect thats why De Beers chose a 38th anniversary couple rather than one married 50 years. Then theres the current issue of AARP, the magazine targeting consumers over 50 (which already has the largest circulation of any magazine in the U.S.). Its current cover shows dolled-up mostly 60+ actresses lounging on fancy furniture in a funny riff on Vanity Fairs annual Hollywood cover. But AARP mixed a few actresses in their 40s and 50s into its cover shot.
What if I told you accommodating seniors could actually help your whole business? Thats what marketing experts say. By providing an automatic door to help older people, as GRID3/Internationals Ruth Mellergaard and Sarah Yates suggest on page 32, you also help young mothers with strollers and shoppers carrying a lot of bags.
Do what Levinson Jewelers did in its Florida store (page 40): Provide a nice seating area all your customers will appreciate, not just the older ones. Use bigger type in signs and ads and cut down on background noise, as Fruchtman Marketings Ellen Fruchtman suggests on page 30. Older buyers whose eyes and ears arent as sharp will be grateful, as will many others.
Back in the day (as younger consumers are apt to say) the character Mame in the eponymous Broadway show was asked by her sharp-tongued friend: Exactly how old are you, Mame? Mame replied airily: Somewhere between 40 and death. Theres a long way between 40 and death these days. Remember, it aint over till its over.
Peggy Jo Donahue