Seniors Offer Marketing Opportunities and Challenges

Discussion
Sep 08, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Americans, as a whole, are getting older and so, it turns out, are our counterparts in Europe.

And as here, European marketers are beginning to test various types of advertising messages and images to determine how to best reach these consumers who have both time and money to spend.

Mike Hayward, direct marketing manager of UK insurance company Cornhill Direct interviewed for a piece on BrandChannel.com said, “The image of the character sitting by the fire with a blanket on his or her knees is completely gone. These people have a reasonable amount of money, they are out all the time, having maybe two to four holidays a year. You have to try to use imagery that shows maturity but also an active lifestyle. In a lot of adverts you’ll see a happy older couple on a cruise ship for example. But many are actually single, either through death or divorce these days. It’s not easy to get the right balance.”

Right now, however, few if any companies are even making the attempt to reach this market. A report in the Economist said 95 percent of advertising budgets are targeted to European consumers under the age of 50.

Frédéric Serrière, head of Senior Strategic consultancy said, “There is a growing awareness that this market is important, but people don’t think they have to look into it now. It’s going to take some time.”

Over the next 15 years, reports BrandChannel.com, consumers in Europe aged 55 and over will grow by 60 percent, while the under-50 group will remain stable.

The problem many brands face, according to Mr. Serrière, is how to market to seniors without having your products identified as being created for or used by old people.

Moderator’s Comment: How do marketers reach the growing senior market without turning off younger consumers to their brand messages? Is targeted marketing
even needed if the product is not developed specifically for seniors?

George Anderson – Moderator

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