Respect (and Sell To) Your Elders
As the average lifespan for Americans continues to grow, so too does a very marketable audience for catalogers and direct marketers — seniors. The Baby Boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) comprises more than 80 million Americans, roughly 42 percent of the U.S. population. This demographic should have marketers salivating. Consider these numbers:
* seniors control 77 percent of all personal assets in the U.S. and half of all discretionary spending ($750 billion);
* they own 40 million credit cards;
* they buy 48 percent of all the luxury cars sold in the U.S.; and
* they spend $610 billion on health care.
So why is less than 10 percent of general advertising targeted at them? The short answer is marketers are unsure how to target this powerful group. In his recent whitepaper, Capturing the Exploding Senior Market: 23 Rules for Targeting Seniors, Richard Tooker, vice president/solutions architect for KnowledgeBase Marketing, a provider of database marketing solutions, provides tips on how to tap into this burgeoning market. Here are some of his more noteworthy techniques:
* Don’t use scare tactics. Discouraging news about aging will not motivate them to respond or buy.
* When possible, target your communications to life-stage events (e.g., retirement).
* Target wealth, not just income. A good percentage of seniors have no income but plenty of money.
* Don’t use answering-system decision trees in your call center. Also, avoid interactive voice response (IVR) at all costs — they want to talk to humans.
* Target females. They’re generally the decision makers in senior households.
* Use copy that holds out the promise of youthfulness and independence — concepts they’ll identify with.
* Avoid pictures of older people in promotions and communications. Generally seniors view themselves as seven to 10 years younger than they really are.
Don’t Abandon the Internet
According to a recent survey, nearly 60 percent of Americans ages 50 to 64 go online, and 22 percent of consumers 65 and older use the Web regularly. The online opportunity is made even more appealing by the fact that Internet usage among seniors skews heavily to those with the greatest financial resources. Here are some online-based tips to take advantage of this opportunity:
* Use large, high-contrast type. The minimum size should be 12- to 14-point type, and it’s best to go with black type on a white background.
* Studies indicate somewhere between 60 percent to 75 percent of seniors use dial-up access to go online. This is a significant factor for your Web designers, who need to avoid using Flash, high-density images that can cause Web pages to load slowly. Most seniors don’t care about bells and whistles anyway; they’re more interested in the information. Your site’s design should focus on speed and content.
* Make your site easy to navigate; include the elements that take visitors to the next page and step in the sale. For example, use large arrows labeled “next page” and “go back.”
For more tips provided in the whitepaper, go to http://www2.kbm1.com/FileUploads/WP-23RulesforTargetingSeniors.pdf .