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Is Your Marketing Reaching The Older Consumer?

Updated: Mar 21

Full disclosure: I’m one of the ‘older consumers’ who thinks a lot of advertisers are really missing the target on the largest group of people with the most money, the most homes, the biggest assets, and the people who not only buy the most cars..but buy the most expensive cars!  The 50-year-old plus households!

Last month I received a ‘Marketing Insider’ post written by the head of research for AARP, Mark Bradbury. The title was “The Increasing Insanity of Marketers’ Indifference Toward Older Consumers”.   Mark did one of the best jobs I’ve seen in laying out the monetary metrics of the plus 50 households versus the under 50.  For starters, there are more of us…almost 8 million more than the under 50 HHs.  But the most important metrics are more revealing.  Older households own more homes, and have fewer mortgages, freeing up money to buy more stuff and have better credit to get approved to buy more stuff.  Email me and I’ll be happy to forward you Mark’s article.

By 2020, the world will have more 55-year-olds than 5-year olds!  Older people will generate half of all urban consumption growth between 2015 and 2030!  In 2035 older adults will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history!  Most importantly, us ‘older’ folks are not all in wheelchairs or rocking on the porch of Shady Glen.  We’re hiking, kayaking, cruising, skiing, biking and putting thousands of miles on our vehicles.

So consider these thoughts in your marketing efforts to better reach the over 50 crowds:

We’ve digitally meshed.  88% of those over 50 use the internet.  73% over 65 use the internet!  65% of those over 50 are on Facebook.  40% of those over 65 use Facebook! 31% of all online shopping is done by those over 50 with higher ticket averages and more frequent re-purchase.

We still like to get mail!  Even though most people over 50 are big email users (as well as instant messaging, text and phone) regular snail mail is opened, read and responded to. And the older we are the more likely we are to read long letters with clear explanations of the offer being made, with illustrations and examples of value and benefit.

We watch TV!  News, weather, and sports are still big, but a large percentage of people over 50 watch lifestyle programs, travel, history, cooking and gardening shows.  The over 50 folks are the ones buying the biggest flat-screens and exploring all the new streaming venues so OTT advertising (Over the Top) presents new opportunities.

We listen to Radio!  Over 50 folks grew up with radio.  It’s still the only medium installed in automobiles.  We listen to a lot of talk radio on both AM and FM!  Write down the station the vehicle is tuned to when we visit for service.  We probably listen to that station a lot.

We respond best when you make your message relatable and easy to understand.  And we respond best to ‘believable’, straight-forward common-sense messaging without a lot of drama and goofy comedy.  We respond best when you give us something familiar to latch onto.

We are most likely to follow-up if you give us an easy path.  Give us a link to your website or give us the URL of your site and an easy to remember phone number.  The over 50 folks are more likely than any other age group to call for more information on something that interests them.

Give us the information we need.  And layout the process and path to get comfortable in making a decision.  We are more likely to watch an infomercial than most of our younger counterparts.  We like YOUTUBE.  A video on your website will keep us there longer.  Why do you think insurance company ads, reverse mortgage offers, gold, and silver ‘informational’ ads are so effective on radio and TV?  They are targeted to the over 50 crowds and they deliver great results for those companies.

Okay, so we’re older.  The eyesight and hearing aren’t what it used to be.  You’ll get a better response to any advertising effort if you make the font on the screen or in the display ad a little larger.  If you’re trying to drive home a sale point, put it on the screen of the TV ad as well as in the audio.

Don’t talk down to us.  Don’t call us old.  Most of us are 30-year-olds with 20+ years of experience.  Been there.  Done that.  We don’t suffer fools or foolishness easily.  We are interested in things that make our lives better, easier and more fun.  We are value-driven by nature, but most of us also recognize the value of great service and personal attention. In comparison to younger age groups, a bigger percentage of those over 50 still have a sense of loyalty to those who treat us well and make us feel that our business is truly appreciated.  Remember…70% of all the disposable income is in our hands!

We all know that the absolute best advertising is word-of-mouth and no other age group in the spectrum spreads the word better than those over 50 when they are pleased with a product or service.  We make the best ambassadors of any age group!


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