Common Misconceptions About Marketing To Adults 50+

In monitoring the Republican and Democratic conventions these past two weeks, it is apparent that the election is going to be won on the margins. That is, whichever party can identify and sway the most undecided voters will likely win.

Similarly, our 25+ years in the business have showed us that the success of our marketing campaigns is also often won on the margins. For every campaign we plan, we look for that edge to reach the extra pool of prospects that moves the ROI needle from good to great. Ironically, the strategies that deliver that incremental return often involve mythbusting of the firmly held beliefs throughout our industry – direct mail is tossed the minute it is delivered, Google is the only platform consumers use to search for goods and services, TV viewers are skipping through every commercial and our favorite - focus budgets on targeting only the 18-49 demographic.

It is estimated that the number of people over the age of 50 will more than double in the next 35 years. This age group will soon represent more than 35% of our total population.  Baby Boomer adults account for almost 50% of all retail sales. However according to AARP less than 10% of marketing dollars target this group.

Lets examine some of the common misconceptions that have led to this disconnect:

  • They are not online.  Not only is this not true but the largest growth in online adoption is occurring with Adults 50+. 82% of Baby Boomers are on Facebook, more than half have smartphones. They are also shopping online. After email, making purchases is the #1 online activity for this segment. It's estimated that people over the age of 55 are spending nearly $7 billion each year shopping online.
  • They are low-income. We are all familiar with 'Senior Discounts' and it's true that some people are on a fixed income. However, much of this segment is doing extremely well. With mortgages paid off and children moved out, they find themselves with more disposable income. In fact, a recent study showed that 70% of disposable income comes directly from this segment of the population.
  • Their prime spending years are behind them – Baby Boomers spend $7 Trillion a year in goods and services.       In fact, adults 50+ outspend the average consumer in most categories including new cars and trucks, personal care and services, household furnishings and of course healthcare.

This age group is rapidly growing in numbers and it's expected that the trend will continue to show an increase in the coming years. People over the age of 50 are staying connected with technology, using cell phones and computers, and they have money to spend.

Simply put, for most consumer facing companies, ignoring the 50+ segment is a poor strategy that will mute your ROI.

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