A New Breed of "Senior"

August 19, 2010 at 1:23 PM
If you still think all seniors are alike, you’ve got another thing coming. Historically, members of the Greatest and Silent Generations have comprised a fairly homogeneous group of seniors, exhibiting similar behaviors, buying patterns, and the like. However, when Baby Boomers start turning 65 next year, the mature population will begin to become increasingly heterogeneous. Baby Boomers already constitute approximately 47% of the mature segment (ages 55 ), and as more and more Boomers age, it is estimated that they will account for about 77% of the mature market by the end of the next decade.  
Now that there is a third, distinct group within the senior segment, it is time for retailers and service providers to take note. Baby Boomers and members of the Greatest and Silent Generations have had markedly different life experiences, and as a result they must be targeted with fundamentally different value propositions. While their wants and needs can be complimentary, they are usually different. One main difference is the way in which members of the two groups view themselves: Baby Boomers do not view themselves as old. While members of the Greatest and Silent Generations might relate to an advertisement featuring a frail, gray-haired old lady, this same ad will not work on Baby Boomers.
Boomers also react to different types of experiences. Boomers want to be engaged. They don’t want to watch, they want to experience. They don’t want to be told, they want to do. So if you’re only using a traditional educational video to target the senior market, you might be missing out on a growing portion of it.
Another major difference between Baby Boomers and the rest of the senior segment is that Boomers are much less risk-adverse, in regards not only to their choice of investments but also to their adoption of new products and technologies. While most members of the Greatest and Silent Generations prefer brands with a strong reputation, Boomers are willing to try new things. In the same vein, Boomers are much more comfortable on the Internet and with mobile devices than their more senior counterparts, so web-based banking services must be developed with these consumers in mind.
While it appears that the majority of U.S. companies have yet to adopt a successful strategy to target this new breed of senior, some are ahead of the curve. One company that excels at targeting mature Boomers is ElderTreks, which provides “exotic adventures for travelers 50 plus.” To see this effective marketing in action, check out the company’s website at www.eldertreks.com.
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