Professional Jeweler Archive: Targeting Seniors Will Attract All Customers

March 2005


Targeting Seniors Will Attract All Customers

You might have mixed emotions while reading our cover story about targeting consumers over 60. Paul McCartney’s appearance as the half-time entertainment at the Super Bowl notwithstanding, most consumer product promoters don’t think older people are hip or cool. Targeting them reduces your business’s sex appeal, you might worry. Not in the age of Viagra.

Seniors have money, more today than at any other time in our nation’s history. Rising real estate values, various run-ups in the stock market and better health mean affluent 60+ consumers aren’t acting like the penny-pinching, stay-at-home stereotype of previous seniors. They’re 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 they’re 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 isn’t 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 that’s why De Beers chose a 38th anniversary couple rather than one married 50 years. Then there’s 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 Fair’s 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? That’s what marketing experts say. By providing an automatic door to help older people, as GRID3/International’s 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 Marketing’s Ellen Fruchtman suggests on page 30. Older buyers whose eyes and ears aren’t 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.” There’s a long way between 40 and death these days. Remember, it ain’t over till it’s over.

– Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications