It’s predicted that by 2040, 80.8 million residents of the US will be over the age of 65 (currently, we’re at 47 million). That’s more than double the number in 2000. While we can wring our hands all day worrying about things like social security and healthcare as the population ages, an older demographic can also be a lucrative market to explore for your business. With more people staying active longer, they’re more apt to make their own buying decisions as well. In the past, many seniors got to an age where younger relatives or caretakers were making their purchase decisions. That’s no longer the case. Plus, many seniors are working longer. In some cases, this means more disposable income.
Here are a few things you can do to be more appealing to an older demographic.
Online Marketing Tips to Attract Seniors
If you’re looking to market specifically to seniors and other older demographics, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Ditch the fear. Don’t scare people into buying your product or service. It’s not nice and you’re better off promoting value or making it easy to buy from you. Seniors don’t want any hassle. If you make them feel comfortable, you’re more likely to get the sale.
2. Use the right kind of social media: Seniors are the fastest-growing segment on Facebook currently. In fact, half of seniors in the US are active Facebook users. Share pictures, articles, and clips. Stay away from asking for personal information. Many seniors are wary of this as they have friends who have been taken advantage of. Comment on posts and engage with your audience in a language that is understandable (lay off the made-up words and slang).
3. Try a few marketing channels until you find the right one(s). Facebook is the most popular, but some seniors are also on Insta. A few are on Twitter or TikTok. A Facebook group may work for you too. Try different channels until you find the right level of interaction to make it worth your while. Many seniors won’t buy directly from social, but you can still work on top-of-mind conversions and leading them into your physical business from online.
4. Clear the clutter. Seniors don’t want to waste their time scanning through a lot of junk. Get to the point with clear content, appealing visuals, and a call to action. Don’t hide content in weird spots on your site. They don’t want to search for the info they need. Most seniors prefer clear headers and tabs to long, scrolling design. Make clickable areas large to help unsteady hands.
5. Use video. While we don’t want to paint a picture of seniors as feeble bodies with bad eyesight, keeping some physical impairments in mind can help you make their online experience better. Clear, concise videos can help walk someone through a process, especially if they have difficulty reading. Chatbots can also help, although some seniors find this annoying and concerning.
6. Black ink, please. Light ink and fancy fonts are hard to read. Stick with black and get rid of scrolling fonts. Larger font size is also a good idea. When you use smaller print, people tend to assume you’re hiding something.
Attracting Seniors to Your Physical Business
To make your physical business location more appealing to senior citizens, you should consider the following strategies:
Create an age-friendly environment: Ensure your business premises are easily accessible. Make sure there are ramps or elevators for those with mobility issues, clear signage, well-lit areas, and comfortable seating. Wider aisles or space between seats is also advisable.
Train your staff: Provide customer service training to your employees specifically focused on understanding and meeting the needs of senior citizens. Sensitize them to be patient, respectful, and helpful toward older customers. Sometimes an older customer wants to tell you/your staff a story. If you want seniors to feel appreciated at your business, encourage your staff to listen.
Offer senior discounts: Implement a senior discount program to attract older customers. Offer a percentage off the total bill, special pricing on specific products or services, or loyalty programs tailored to seniors.
Simplify your communication: Make sure your marketing materials, signage, and website are designed with larger fonts and clear, easy-to-read text. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be confusing for seniors. Offer non-digital options. While many seniors enjoy technology, some do not. Duplicate your efforts online and off. Ask seniors their preferences and note them in your customer management system or list.
Provide assistance: Assign staff members to assist seniors with any specific needs they may have, such as carrying their bags, providing personal shopping assistance, or offering guidance on product selection.
Offer educational workshops or classes: Organize workshops or classes on topics of interest to seniors, such as technology training, health and wellness, or financial planning. Keep in mind, your event needn’t be directly related to your business. For instance, a bookstore could host a chair yoga event to bring in more active seniors. You could also partner with another business to co-host an event or expo. This not only attracts older customers but also positions your business as a resource for their needs. They will connect with you and think of you as their first stop.
Build community partnerships: Collaborate with local senior centers, retirement communities, or other organizations that serve seniors. This can help you reach out to the senior community, establish trust, and gain valuable insights into their preferences.
Incorporate senior-friendly products: Stock your inventory with products that cater to the specific needs and preferences of seniors. This could include items like ergonomic furniture, assistive devices, comfortable clothing, or health and wellness products.
Seek feedback and adapt: Actively seek feedback from your senior customers to understand their experience and identify areas for improvement. Incorporate their suggestions to continuously enhance your business's appeal to our aging population.
Remember, today’s seniors aren’t the grandparents of yesteryear. (George Clooney is 62 and Denzel Washington is 68!) When you remove causes of death due to accidents, drug use, and suicides, people are living longer and more active lives. Keep in mind that people over 65 are a diverse group, and their preferences may vary. It's important to listen, be flexible, and continuously adapt your approach to meet their changing needs.
Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and resembles this article in more ways than she wants to admit.