Many marketers don’t understand how to connect with today’s seniors, and they’re making some expensive mistakes. To effectively reach this audience you have to understand what does (and doesn’t) motivate them.
The most common mistakes when marketing to seniors are:
Using fear to motivate. The most effective advertising is aspirational in nature - it speaks to what we desire to be - productive, physically fit and valued; it doesn't scare us with fears of what we might become - old, infirmed, obsolete. Yet, many experts forget this important marketing wisdom and instead highlight fears of aging. As a generation, seniors are not fearful; they are challengists. They challenge medicine, technology, society and politics to be better. And challengists are aspirational by nature. It's why they believe things can be better.
Assuming that aging is a destination, not a journey. Our parents' and grandparents' generations looked at aging as a journey with a definite destination - retirement. Given the struggles of their lives and the lower life expectancy, "retiring" was a badge of achievement. For today's senior, "retirement" is often the start of a new phase - perhaps of a new career, a new passion, or more time to devote to a lifetime passion. And, it most definitely is part of a journey, not the final resting spot.
Highlighting nostalgia, not progress. While it is important to understand the historical political, societal and cultural changes that helped shaped the psyche of today’s senior, it is equally important to remember that they are a forward-thinking group - and have been for most of their lives. It's this forward thinking that wrought important societal, political, and cultural changes - and will continue to bring changes as we enter new phases. Seniors are not nostalgic for the "good old days" but rather look forward to what's next - whether it is in their personal or public lives or products they embrace.
Remember, a senior’s spending habits are attached not to his fears and insecurities, but to his hopes and aspirations.
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