How to market successfully to the 50+ consumer

By Barbara Risto, INSPIRED Senior Living Publisher

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In order to market successfully to the 50+ consumer, here are some tips gleaned from researchers who have studied the buying habits of this dynamic demographic.

  • Mature consumers tend to research products in great detail before making a purchase. They will often look for comparisons and reviews on products before they buy. Give them as much information as you can to satisfy their need for details they can use to compare your product or service against others.
  • Mature consumers don't appreciate being talked down to or patronized. They may not be familiar with the most recent technological gadget, but they are often ready to learn - provided the seller can give a clear explanation of the product, and do so in a respectful manner. They may be older, but they're not stupid. In fact, quite the opposite!
  • Mature consumers are wary - they've been around enough to know that there are a lot of scam artists and inferior products out there. They feel safer buying products that provide a money back guarantee or a trial period. Testimonials work with this consumer. They will trust another buyer before they will trust the seller.
  • Mature consumers want to be reasoned with, not provided with a bunch of hype. Don't expect to "wow" them. Prepare to educate and provide clear reasons why your product or service is a good match to their needs.
  • Avoid stereotypical graphics or photos that depict sagging grannies and toothless grandpas. Today's mature buyer is active and vibrant or at least wants to be perceived that way. They respond to action oriented graphics - playing with grandkids, attending sporting events, travelling, etc.
  • Mature consumers tend to see themselves about 10-15 years younger than their actual age. Using photos in your marketing material of people who are somewhat younger than your target market (but not so young that it's a ridiculous comparison) will appeal to their self-image and make them more open to making a purchase.
  • Mature consumers are looking for products and services that make life easier and more fun. If it's simple to use, requires little fuss, saves time, conserves energy, makes environmental sense, gives them a new lease on life... those are the items that will be attractive to this buyer.
  • Avoid reference to age or the aging process. Mature consumers do not need to be reminded they are getting older. Talk about the benefits of the product or service. Don't waste time talking about what they DON'T want (wrinkles), talk about what they DO want (perfect, smooth skin).
  • Make the purchase process easy. Too many forms or fields to fill out, too many clicks, too many questions, an answering machine that requires 10 selections before they get to talk to a real person - these time wasters will kill more sales than you can imagine. The mature consumer does not appreciate delayed gratification... they want it now. Why do we have drive-in Starbucks, card operated gas pumps, etc. - it's not just so the business can economize on staff, it's because today's mature consumer doesn't want to wait in line, get out of their car, walk to the gas station checkout... They're not lazy - they just want to pack as much as they can into a day... so they appreciate efficiency.
  • While the mature consumer is the fastest growing group of computer users, their preferred medium is still print. If you are targeting a younger mature person (say, age 50 - 69), use an integrated campaign that combines print with some online advertising. But if you are targeting the older mature person (over the age of 70), skew your efforts more toward print but don't totally ignore the online factor.
  • When possible, show real customers using your product or service, not stock photos. Mature consumers appreciate realism - glamorous models and movie stars do not impress the way they may have at one time (unless it's a local celebrity, then it does have some impact).
  • Avoid the "smiling senior couple" stereotype if it isn't a good match for your product or service. That image may be great for a dating service, but the truth is that the couple stereotype does not accurately reflect the actual lifestyle of many mature consumers who are single, divorced or widowed. This can be a turnoff or raise unhappy memories if it's used inappropriately.

Some these suggestions are simply common sense when you think about them. If you haven't take the time to consider how your advertising message is being perceived, it might be of value to look at what you can do to match your message to the mature consumer.

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