Myths and Marketing Tips for Seniors and Baby Boomers

They Have the Most Expendable Income and They Spend

Marketing campaigns frequently glaze over and disregard targeting audiences 50+. This can be a big mistake. Senior citizens have expendable incomes and have no issues spending it. However, you must know how to speak their language.

According to research done by AARP  “the 50+ market will grow by 15 million over the next 10 years. That’s nearly 3X the growth of the 18-49 market. Boomers command 71% of the entire nation’s wealth. The 50+ market make 39% of all online purchases. Boomers account for 51% of entertainment spending and 57% of big-ticket purchases including new cars. Boomers are an incredible economic force.

Yet, they’re an under-targeted market by brands. In fact, only 10% of marketing dollars are targeted towards the 50+ audience. That’s forty percentage points of all marketing dollars left on the table to match consumer spending.”  The biggest hurdle for advertising is to address and dispel the misconceptions of mature consumers.

Myth 1: Seniors are more brand loyal than younger generations

While this may have been true 40 years ago, today’s seniors are just as likely as younger consumers to change brands according to a study by AARP. Brand preference must have an engagement factor included for today’s seniors. “For example, in the 55+ age group, 31% of auto owners were “fully engaged” Gallup’s definition of an emotionally engaged customer.

In contrast, only 23% and 16% of consumers in the 17-24- and 25-34-year-old age groups were fully engaged (respectively). Among those who shopped at mass merchandisers, 34% of those 55+ years of age were fully engaged. In clear contrast, only 9% of the 17-24- and 25-34-year-old shoppers were fully engaged with the stores where they shop — less than a third of the engagement levels noted among the older consumers.”

Myth 2: Price is the only thing seniors care about

Price is no longer the #1 driving force in purchase decisions. Boomers and seniors have experienced too many undelivered brand promises in their lifetimes, therefore; “Companies don’t need to make stronger brand promises or make them more often and in more media. Rather, companies must focus on delivering their brand promises.”

Myth 3: Seniors don’t shop online

Retirees have plenty of time to research choices online. “Greenfield pointed out that…              29 percent of the 3,000 seniors surveyed spent two to three hours a day online. The survey found that 93 percent of online seniors surveyed have shopped online, compared to 78 percent of the general Internet population. 89 percent of seniors fully completed their online purchases, compared to only 70 percent for the general Internet population. Last year’s senior survey showed that 92 percent of online seniors had shopped online, and 78 percent had completed their online purchases.”

Myth 4: Seniors all think alike

Contrary to popular belief, there are three distinct mature consumer groups. Each is in their own spending and lifestyle faction: those 50-56 who are still in their peak earning years; those 57-65 who are still work but are planning retirement; and those 66 and older who have entered their retirement years.

Myth 5: Your brand message applies to all your consumers

Marketers wishing to reach this market would be wise to create specific messages targeting this group.

  1. Life stage marketing. Many baby boomers are facing various life stage changes such as a sudden empty nest, looking at retirement communities and retirement. Including these defining moments in your message can help make a quick connect with this target audience.
  2. Remove the risk. While they may have lots of disposable income, mature consumers watch their pennies. Removing the risk of them losing their money by offering a money-back guarantee, lifetime warranty or free trials.  
  3. Know your customer. In the same way that every cellular phone isn’t an iPhone, every senior citizen isn’t elderly. Those 50 and over have varied desires and needs.

Marketing to mature consumers can help mid-market brands increase their sales and create a strong advertising plan for build loyalty with customers for a lifetime. To learn more about how to tailor your message and purchase media to reach mature consumers, contact A3 media at (610) 631-5500 or email