Boomers or Bust

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Let’s start with some numbers for perspective. There were 55.7 million people aged 65 or older in 2020, or 17% of the US population. Census projections show that those 65 and older will grow to 80.8 million by 2040 (22% of the population) and 94.7 million by 2060. In 2020, those reaching the age of 65 had a life expectancy of 18.5 more years. Interestingly, 10.6 million seniors (or 18.9%) were in the workforce in 2021.

Much has been written about the concentration of wealth and assets among seniors. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of those between the ages of 65 and 74 is $266,400 compared with $168,600 for those aged 45 – 54. In fact, 31% of total spending in 2020 was represented by those 60+ years old, +4 points in the past 5 years. And that is projected to grow to 33% by 2025, according to VISA. Discretionary shopping (travel, home goods and services, and experiences) are highest among the seniors cohort. In fact, Boomers control 70% of all disposable income. And contrary to urban myths, seniors buy online.

So what?

Some implications for marketers and business owners. One, it is difficult to segment the senior cohort due to a wide range of living status and health issues. Some are challenged by day to day living and making ends meet. But there is a large and growing group that is more active, independent, physically fit, better educated, and more optimistic than prior generations.

For this group, do NOT remind them that they are seniors. Do NOT talk down to them. If you treat them with respect and inform them about your products and services, they will reward you with their business. And they tend to be loyal clients.

After all, they are active with most wanting to age in place. Relationships with family and friends are even more important once work responsibilities are in the rear-view mirror. Community becomes a higher priority, and food takes on greater importance. One, to maintain a healthy lifestyle. And two, to share occasions together.

Real world use

That said, do think about your products in the hands of the older generation. Is it relatively easy to open, especially for those with arthritis? 50% of those aged 65+ have arthritis, and 85% for those aged 70+. Does the cap have to be squeezed to remove, and how much hand or finger strength does that take? Is the package easy to reclose and store? Does it remain upright and stable once the contents are depleted? If it is a resealable package, is it clear and easy to open initially? Test it among seniors to know for sure. Or are scissors required? And is the location marked clearly as to where to cut to remove the top of the package?

Speaking of instructions (or ingredients labeling), are they printed in such a small font that seniors need a magnifying glass to read them? How many times have I seen seniors take a picture of the product (or restaurant menu for that matter) and then expand the image so that it is large enough to read.

Is the product easy to hold, dispense, scoop out of, or pour from? Product engineers and designers often are not the primary user, so what they think is easy may not be in actual use. And, yes, those functional features do add cost. But, hey, do you want to sell your products, and retain a satisfied customer base? Yeah, I thought so.

Tips for marketing and selling

When it comes to selling, be sure to showcase the features and benefits supported with the reason(s) why to believe your claims. Seniors have a lifetime of experience and can at times be a skeptical audience. Don’t dumb it down. Make your case. Demonstrate how it works or performs better than competitive products. Show and tell. The “why” matters. And use common language and images—no slang please.

Do tell your story in a multi-channel manner. The most valuable senior segment is internet savvy and uses their smartphone daily. The higher the price point or the more complicated the technology (like smart home technology or smart watches or hybrid vehicles), the more important face to face selling becomes.

And once your prospective senior client has made an inquiry or made a visit to the dealer, personalize your follow up. Use their name, validate what is most important to their buying decision, and offer to answer questions or provide more relevant information. And send them links to customer reviews as seniors are information seekers who value learning about products and services prior to making a purchase decision.

At Damen Jackson, we start with strategy to guide a successful go-to-market campaign or product launch. For each and every target audience.

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