Marketing to Seniors: Targeting a $15 Trillion Market

Millennials’ use of technology is a hot topic. But maybe marketers are focusing on the wrong demographic? In 2008, 35% of seniors used the Internet; but by 2013, 59% of seniors were online. Seniors’ use of the Internet continues to climb in conjunction with an increasing population of seniors. The US Census Bureau has published data projecting that by 2030, those over 60 will make up over 30% of the US population. Even more significant is the fact that in 2017— 50% of the US population will be 50+.

Furthermore, aging baby boomers are quite affluent and have disposable income readily available. A US News & World report indicates that this demographic controls 70% of the nation’s disposable income. Moreover, 83% of baby boomers surveyed conduct online research before making a major offline purchase. Translation: marketers are potentially missing out on profit in brick and mortar stores—in addition to missing out on profit from the massive digital market. 72% of adults aged 55-63 shop online, and yet, inexplicably marketers spend only 5 percent of advertising on this humongous sect of the population.

Lots of big name companies have already jumped on the bandwagon and are attempting to explore this uncharted 15 trillion dollar market, including BloombergBusiness, BusinessInsider, Forbes, HuffingtonPost, nytimes. You could be next.

What’s more—the number of seniors online is only going to increase. When seniors start using the internet, they love it. Why? Because it’s convenient. Because it opens up a whole new world. Because it’s empowering.

Millennials love to shop online and yet they are fully physically capable of traveling to a store location to make a purchase. Millennials have this choice. In contrast, seniors are often physically limited by an ailment, crutch, or bad day. Hence, if a fully physically equipped millennial isn’t going to venture out to the brick and mortar store—then why a senior citizen? The Internet is a very useful tool for solving problems and answering questions. What’s the weather like today? I don’t know, but Google does. When was Christopher Columbus born? Google knows it. Where is the closest grocery store? You bet, Google knows it. Strategically marketing to seniors will give you access to this $15 trillion market.

Marketing to Seniors: Reassess Your Website to Ensure It’s Senior Optimized!

1) Think Big. Increase text and image sizes

Talking to mom, dad, grandma or grandpa often means talking in an extremely exaggerated tone, commonly known as “yelling.” Enlarged text is the digital version of yelling at grandpa so he can hear you. Over time all of our senses deteriorate, so to market to an older generation, it is necessary to be sensitive to these limitations. If they can’t read the text on your website, then they are simply going to move on.

*Bonus— reorganize long paragraphs into more comprehensible bullets and shorter snippets of text. Bullets and shorter bits of text are simple, easy to read, and not nearly as intimidating. Make sure these changes are reflected on both the traditional site and mobile platforms so you can increase your marketing to seniors.

2) Simplify and streamline content

Easy is better for everyone. However, the older we get the more important ease of use is to our demographic. In many cases seniors are the newest adopters of online e-commerce. For most of us, when we try something new we are tentative and avoid risks. This hesitancy is even more pronounced when being introduced to an earth-shattering resource like the Internet. Point: seniors aren’t going to look very hard for the buy button before they give up.

If simple is better, fewer is also better. When overwhelmed by numerous choices or options, society suffers from decision paralysis, and seniors do so to an even greater extent. Limiting options and simplifying content is a great way to start marketing to seniors.

3) Establish credibility and trust

Sales 101 is to establish trust. The digital divide astronomically amplifies the challenge of establishing some sort of personal touch. Credibility and trust may potentially be established through website security certificates or a list of well recognized clients/ business partners who currently work or have worked with your company.

Have a mission statement and values. Seniors want to know that the human behind the website stands for something. A handshake means something to them. Give them your digital handshake via a mission and values. Spend a whole page of your website telling your story—based on the values and principles your company was founded on.

4) Offer a phone number for assistance

A human voice goes a long way in establishing trust, simplifying the process, and proving that you are a valued customer. A phone number is a comforting site when the senior starts panicking because he can’t find the buy button.

5) Be senior relevant (pictures including seniors in them)

Your company must cultivate a persona which appeals to seniors. Pokemon never was their interest and it won’t start to be now.

People relate to pictures. Psychology proves that we naturally gravitate towards other people who look like us. Successful marketing to seniors will include quality stock images that include seniors for your website. Your images do not need to be exclusively seniors; however there should be at least a few salient images of seniors.

Now it is your turn to act! Complete a website audit to ensure your site is marketing to seniors. Make sure you don’t miss out on this 15 trillion dollar market! Remember:

  • Increase text and image sizes.
  • Simplify and streamline content.
  • Establish trust and credibility.
  • Offer a phone number for assistance.
  • Be senior relevant.

Jake SaineContent Creator

Created in partnership with Furman University.

Find out more about how to expand your marketing strategies and reach new audiences.

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