Learn to Talk With New Seniors
Before Trying to Sell Them
By Donald L. Potter
In the July and October issues of Response, I dis- cussed the size and scope of the 65-and-older mar- ket, their thinking and behavior, along with that of the cutting-edge boomers who will soon swell
their ranks. They represent the fastest-growing consumer
group in America and around the world. This article
wraps up the three-part series by looking at messaging
and the need to build a relationship with New Seniors
before trying to sell them something.
Remember, these individuals do not consider themselves to be seniors — certainly nothing like seniors of
old. New Seniors look at least five years younger than
their age, feel 10 years younger and are convinced they
can do anything someone 15 years their junior can do.
In fact, many still work or would if the opportunity presented itself. Why not? These folks have a third of their
lives or more ahead of them. So, don’t treat them as if
they are headed for the elephants’ graveyard.
Stages of Life
As they travel through this next part of life’s adventure, New Seniors will encounter different stages. Early
on they will make the big adjustment of leaving the
workforce and seek to replace this event with other activities. Later there will be financial considerations and
health challenges to confront. And, finally they must
address the fact that no one gets out of here alive.
These life phases mean different products will be appropriate at different points in the continuum. The most
effective ads will show people several years younger than
their age, doing things younger adults do and enjoying it
more. Viagra knew what it was doing. The commercials
went from an older spokesman (former Sen. Bob Dole)
to everyday older
people to retired
to younger (under
reaching the age
of 65 have gained
themselves over the
years, they do have fears. Two of these are not related to
survival or any creature comforts. One is male-oriented,
while the other is more likely to affect women. These
fears are a powerful influence in the way people deal
with the aging process. Men fear losing power; women
fear being invisible. These are not separate issues, rather
they are simply opposite sides of the same coin: control.
Address these concerns through advertising and, if the
product or service delivers, you’ve got a winner.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Although New Seniors are more homogeneous than
many other segments, when it comes to personal values
and concerns, one size does not fit all. Where it may not
be feasible to tailor products and services for individual
markets, it is possible to divide the media and the advertising message into segments for greater effectiveness.
Not all New Seniors are married nor the same religion, race or political persuasion. This should not be
surprising. You used to target these same people when
they were younger and — to some marketers — a more
desirable audience. The demographics haven’t changed
from 10 or 20 years ago when these folks were in their
forties and fifties.
However, the psychographics and sociographics have
evolved. Individuals tend to be mellow and embrace
the traditional values of their youth. This attitude is
manifested by accepting others, caring, and deeper relationships plus a willingness to mentor and help younger
people. Will your DRTV product or service help the
New Senior accomplish these new goals?
New Seniors have years of experience as consumers.
Because they are adept in making buying decisions, they
like the facts. Symbolism and trendy creative executions
leave them cold.
Showing a real understanding of New Seniors suggests you know what they want. This goes a long way in
breaking down any barriers, and puts you in the position
of being a friend. And, being a friend is the best way
to sell those 65 and older. Taking this concept a step
further, delivering on your sales promise is the only way
to become a trusted friend — one New Seniors will feel
comfortable buying from again and again. ■