Breaking news: We’ve stopped getting older. The first baby boomers, born around 1945, are approaching 70. They are healthy and happy, apparently having decided to opt out of old age. Marketing to seniors involves showing pictures of active silver-haired people. They have plans.
Start by defining seniors as people 65 or older. Let’s assume your ideal market is healthy, retired and collecting that increasing rarity, the defined benefit pension plan. They have time and money. Let’s also assume your prospects are sharp and alert, thanks to good health care.
So seniors are your market. What’s their lifestyle? Do they have concerns? How do you market to them? What are the best ways to sell to them?
The senior lifestyle
For people with gold, these are the golden years. After years of working and saving, they have an income from both pension and Social Security, maybe double if they are married. They have plenty of time on their hands and a lifetime’s worth of deferred projects and dreams to fill it. No wonder so many can say, “I don’t know how I ever found the time to work!”
Seniors volunteer. They have been part of the community for years or recently moved to a lower cost of living region and want to get involved. They want to give back. They get involved with cultural institutions like museums and the symphony. Comfortable seniors volunteer. Really well-off ones run the place.
See also: A case for volunteerism
Seniors affiliate. At last, they have time for their college alumni association. They might not know other graduates, but the buildings and professors are likely the same. The schools love them, too, as planned giving is never far from their thoughts. They spend evenings at homeowners’ association meetings.
Seniors continue learning, a major reason they move to college towns like Chapel Hill, N.C., or Charlottesville, Va. They take community school courses or audit college classes.
Seniors stay close to health care. They know they might need it someday. The university town they chose likely has a medical school. They volunteer with medical charities or lend a hand at the local hospital, wanting to be a familiar face if they need medical help in a hurry.
Seniors are often religious. Faith often takes a back seat when people are busy. Now they have time. Although positive people don’t dwell on death, they realize they might be meeting their Maker sooner rather than later.
Seniors travel. They have the time and schedule to take advantage of last-minute fare sales or plan exotic vacations years in advance. Whether they have a bucket list or not, seniors are getting out, seeing the world and making friends in the process.
Seniors socialize, especially with younger people. It makes them feel younger. They learn about new technologies, expressions and music. They expand their comfort zones.
Seniors enjoy free time, that most elusive of commodities. They read personal letters addressed to them, flip through magazines and enjoy glossy travel brochures.
What troubles seniors
Wow! That sounds like a great life! I want that! Sign me up! Yet, seniors have lots of fears, with health topping the list. They are healthy, but so were their friends who recently passed away. They see doctors frequently, looking for early warning signs. Most of the fun stops when they get ill.
They fear losing money. Their house might be paid off and the pension checks arrive regularly, but their nest egg can’t be replaced if they make serious investment mistakes. The stock market scares them because they don’t have the time horizon required to recover from bad investments.
They want to give someone a better life. This often means grandchildren and college educations. Their own children, faced with estimated college bills of $250,000-plus per child, think it’s a great idea.
They are worried about predatory heirs. Even though they spent decades accumulating wealth, some relatives appear impatient. Talk of “death panels” and end-of-life issues scares them.