Marketers: Don’t use “seniors” to market to Boomers

Some older people do not like being called seniors. They may feel that the term is infantilizing or condescending, and they don’t like silver either.  Famously demanding and rebellious, baby boomers don’t want anyone to suggest they’re old.

Boomers are getting older, and they’re redefining “retirement.” Today, the average age for someone moving into a nursing home is 81. In the 1950s, it was 65. In a 2005 Merrill Lynch survey of people between 40 and 59, 76 percent said they planned to retire at about 64 — and start an entirely new career. Men and women in their 70s and 80s race in almost every marathon. Seniors teach and take classes, travel, and live fuller lives than ever.

There’s a reason you don’t see many products marketed as “senior-friendly” or “good for boomers”–nobody would buy them.

Boomers have reinvented each stage of life they’ve entered. And they aim to redefine what it means to be old. “They’re saying, ‘Hell, no, we won’t go down to Florida,’” said Mary Furlong, author of Turning Silver into Gold: How to Profit in the New Boomer Marketplace.

2 Boomer Myths That Marketers Believe
Marketers are stuck on a variety of myths about aging, including these two:
Older consumers buy the same brands they’ve always believed in. As a result, marketers say, why bother catering to them? “If that theory was true, I would drive a Chevy Impala and wear English Leather,” said Dychtwald, 63.
They’re cheap. A survey of 3,000 consumers over 60 by consulting firm A.T. Kearney found they’re not price-sensitive, even if their incomes are below average.
The sheer size of the wave gives it buying power never seen in an emerging group of elderly. These are the children of Mad Men, not the Depression.

Older people have long been the victims of stereotyping within modern society and growing up in the 1980s, it wasn’t uncommon to hear terms like ‘silly old bugger’ or a person being described as ‘losing their marbles’ when dealing with cognitive impairment.

A lot has changed over the last 30 years regarding older people, and with three decades worth of education and research, has realized that terms like that can be hurtful. They also dilute the real problems and causes of cognitive impairment, like dementia.

These are just a few reasons why some older people may not like being called seniors. First, the term can be seen as ageist. It can suggest that older people are no longer as capable or valuable as younger people. Second, the term can be seen as impersonal. It can reduce individuals to their age group rather than acknowledging their unique personalities and experiences. Third, the term can be seen as outdated. It is often used in a formal or institutional setting, which may only be appropriate for some situations.

It is also important to note that not all older people dislike the term senior. Some people may feel it is a perfectly acceptable term and may even prefer it to other words. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide what they like to be called, and “hey, Boomer or Senior or Silver aren’t terms they like.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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