How to Target the 50-Plus Consumer Market

As consumers, baby boomers need and buy virtually every kind of old and new product or service available. Here are some marketing tips to reach that market.

Most of us business people know how the 50-plus aging baby boomer market and the 65-plus senior market are the two major demographic segments of the population. As consumers, they need and buy virtually every kind of old and new product or service available. Their staggering wealth of over $7 trillion and their accumulation of over 77% of all financial assets are just the beginning!

So, what are some good marketing tips to help you focus on getting more sales from this diverse market share? How can you express your marketing messages for better response rates? How will you build trust with them for future sales as well as referrals?

Timely Tips

We are younger than we are – perceptually, most people think of themselves as between 10-20 years younger than their actual age. Portray them in your messages and in your imagery as age-compatible people to whom they can relate. It’s hard to identify with a commercial featuring 20-somethings getting polluted by the Beer of the Week!

Identify the specific market(s) you are targeting. Here are some “titles” experts have created for each age segment: People born between 1946 and 1964 are all baby boomers, but many advertisers want to reach the 50-58 year old aging baby boomer market. Some mature marketers call the age group from 58 up “zoomers,” or “transitionals.” Age 65 officially begins the time most government agencies consider us “seniors.” However, many people over 65 consider a true senior to be 78 and older. The 85-plus population is the fastest growing segment of all these groups—estimated from 1995 to 2010 to grow by 56% as compared to 13% of the 65 to 84 year olds. Centenarians, people 100 and over, now number well over 72,000 with 4 out of 5 being women. From 85 and up (with many younger people, too) buying decisions are usually made by others.

Caregivers, who tend to the needs of aging or physically challenged people, are the buying audience many health care related companies and specialists want to reach. Some are local caregivers, and can locate the products and services more easily than long distance caregivers, who now number somewhere between 7-10 million people searching for the right solutions. Family caregivers with children and parents are called the “sandwich generation”, while caregivers with 3 generations to be concerned about are called the “double-decker sandwich generation.” They require lots of advice and good help, even though they may be operating within a short time-table.

The problem for many decision-making consumers 50-plus continues to be the advertising and marketing “overdose” of more than 600 promotional messages in a single 24-hour period. How does one person select the best services or products when needed?

Earning Your Sale

Build trust with potential clients. Do what you say you will do. Confirm appointments. Return telephone calls promptly. Explain things about your product or service clearly, logically, and without excess, unnecessary information or puff.. Never talk down to them because you think they are “slow.” In most cases, they are insightful, filled with wisdom, and want the real facts – numbers, prices, features, benefits—so they can make the most comfortable buying decisions from the right business. Keep in touch after the sale— through thank you , holiday and friendly notes; newsletters via snail mail or the internet; telephone follow-ups; invitations to seminars, parties or recognition events for satisfied clients. If they are satisfied with purchases from you, ask for a testimonial quote that you can publish with or without their name.

Talk with your hands away from your face or mouth. Pace your sales presentation. Ask them frequently for any questions or concerns they may have—and review often so they understand what you have said. If there is sun in the room, face your potential clients away from the sun glare. Make sure there is no place in your office or store that it’s difficult to maneuver around, the flooring is smooth, and rugs don’t move around when people walk on them. Keep wheelchairs, oxygen and other questionable items out of eyesight. Do not have background music on; it causes interference and confusion for the hard-of-hearing. Make sure you have eye contact and a friendly smile.

Potential customers and you find each other many ways: your direct mail marketing; newsletters, give- away brochures and flyers; feature stories (via public relations or actual news items); positive media stories; event and seminar flyers as stand-alones, newspaper advertising; or advertising inserts in local newspapers; the Internet (the new advertising alternative); and the best of all—contented clients who are referral sources for you.

Your sales material: must be a minimum of 12 points, with much white or beige background contrast preferred; headlines and sub-headings to break up the copy in larger print, easy-to-read fonts like Arial; clear, say-it-as-it-is copy; intergenerational photos earn a plus; and seven seconds is all you’ve got to capture the customer. “What’s in it for me?” is the buyer’s most important concern.

Most consumers today are getting smarter and sharper with sales spiels. High-pressure tactics usually do not work. Either does special pricing “only today.” These should set up a red flag for the boomers, seniors and caregivers. Fly-by-night scams specially aimed at seniors should be reported to the police, the media and other seniors. And shame on the company who deliberately tries to con older people!

Over 25 million people 50-plus are regular Internet users and shoppers. The internet, your website, other websites where you have a link back to yours, and advertising or publicity on other popular websites are today’s hottest promotional tools. Your potential audience must find your website easily on the big search engines like Google and Yahoo. Your high ranking must be a high priority. Professional help in these areas is a good idea for the best results.

Treat People As You Want To Be Treated.

Sharon Sultan Cutler is a Certified Senior Advisor and a mature marketing expert. Her website,, contains timely news and features geared to boomers through seniors. It also features a unique Business PDirectory where consumers and businesses can find each other. Contact Sharon at

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