Marketing to an Older Generation
One of the most difficult forms of communication is cross-generational. It is especially difficult for younger people to share the perspective of the older generation. The socially transformative impact of the digital age allegedly widens this gap. Young people own the Internet, according to conventional wisdom. Underlying many marketing messages is that if you are old, you are not tech savvy.
Misconceptions of the Older Generation
There is one marketing theory that dismisses the older generation because of its supposed brand loyalty. This approach preaches that you get customers when they are young and keep them. This myth ignores the immense buying power of the older generation. Seniors over the age of 65 now control over 75% of the wealth in the U.S. and Europe. They are also spending in new ways on new products.
This misconception is a source of frustration to some individuals and companies that depend upon online marketing. They are concerned with how to approach this valuable demographic with Internet techniques. With the perception that a majority of the elderly avoid the Web, they are hesitant to seek them out online.
As we see below, that is a very incorrect perspective. The senior citizen is alive and well on the Internet. Further, millions of members of the older generation are active in social media and related Internet activities,
Who Are the Older Generation?
Marketers started grappling with the issue of an aging population in the 1970s. The birth explosion of the 50s and early 60s created the baby boomers. Ken Dychtwald came to prominence with his early work, “The Age Wave.” He explained the visible impact on markets this huge bubble in the population makes as it ages. There are now 6,300 individuals turning 65 every single day in the U.S.
It is important not to forget the generation before the baby boomers. Tens of millions of WWII age seniors are active consumers. They reinforce the fact that the term older generation is misleading. There are multiple segments and market dynamics within the overall senior market.
Seniors and the Internet
Stating again that the term senior is misleading, the numbers show that people over the age of 65 are very active online. They like to find bargains and the Internet is much like a treasure hunt to many of them. Seniors are one of the most active age groups that use comparison sites such as TripAdvisor and Expedia. Millions of seniors are online visiting eBay and YouTube daily. One YouTube personality with millions of views is an 80-year-old that posts comments about life every day.
Boomers and older seniors use email and social media to keep in touch with children and grandchildren. No senior living center built today omits a computer room for their residents.
According to a recent Pew study, boomers are 36 % of the Internet population and drive 33% of the daily traffic. Over 74% percent of this group uses the Internet often, and 53% use it daily.
If Internet marketers want to reach the older generation, they can target the sites they visit the most often. Leading the most popular are health information, comparison-shopping, travel, and financial service sites.
In addition to these standard sites, there are dozens of sites targeting seniors that get millions of page views. A few of these include:
The Roaming Boomers http://www.theroamingboomers.com/
Changing Aging http://changingaging.org/
SeniorJob Bank http://www.seniorjobbank.org/
Marketing to the older generation online is almost exactly the same as marketing to any other demographic. The world of social media makes that statement timelier. Internet marketers will do well not to overlook this market segment.
Author Bio: Joshua Turner is a writer who creates articles related to business. This article sheds light on older generations and the role of the Internet in their lives, and aims to encourage further study with an Aging Masters.
Marketing to an Older Generation