Generational Cycles – The Over-65 Gold-Rush
Editor | On 17, Feb 2019
From a recent article in The Washington Post:
Executives at Gillette have for decades defined shaving as a rite of passage. The company famously mails out free razors — with “welcome to manhood” cards — to millions of men a year on their 18th birthdays. Its ads focus on the experience passing from father to son. But in recent years, executives have begun to see another milestone emerge in their customers’ lives: the moment when sons begin shaving their aging fathers.
“We started seeing it all over social media — men posting about washing, grooming and shaving their fathers,” said Matt Hodgson, a design engineer at Gillette. “It’s a very difficult and emotional thing to do.”
It turned out there are a number of logistical challenges, too. Those who are bedridden don’t have easy access to running water to rinse blades or wash off shaving cream. Traditional blades are quick to nick delicate skin.
“We’re specialists in developing razors and yet all the products we could find were for shaving yourself,” Hodgson said. “When you turn the razor outward, it doesn’t work as well anymore. It was clear we needed to create something completely new.”
After three years of observation, design and testing, Gillette is preparing to release the first razor built for caregivers to shave others. The Gillette Treo has an extra-wide handle and comes with a tube of clear gel that eliminates the need for running water or shaving cream.
The brand, which is losing younger customers to online start-ups like Harry’s, is looking for opportunities to reach the country’s fastest-growing demographic: Americans 65 and older. The number of senior citizens in the United States is expected to nearly double by 2050, creating a fast-growing niche for retailers and manufacturers.
Best Buy, which is investing heavily in technology for aging adults, is spending $800 million on GreatCall, the tech company behind the senior-friendly Jitterbug phone, which comes with extra-large buttons and screens, and alerts first responders when there’s an emergency. (The acquisition, scheduled to be finalized this fall, would be the largest in Best Buy’s history.) Other companies are creating hairbrushes and combs with extendible handles, toothbrushes with three-sided heads, and sensor-packed shoes that can detect falls, all aimed at elderly consumers and those who care for them.
“The tide is turning: Retailers are starting to realize there’s a big opportunity here that they’re not paying attention to,” said Georganne Bender, a consultant who helps retailers accommodate aging shoppers. “For so long everyone’s been focused on the younger customer, but if you look at the stats, Baby Boomers still control 70 percent of the country’s disposable income.”
Spending by Americans age 50 and up is expected to rise 58 percent to $4.74 trillion in the next 20 years, according to AARP. (Spending by 25- to 50-year-olds, by comparison, is expected to grow 24 percent.) At the same time, the number of adults taking care of elderly parents is expected to rise steadily in coming years.
“It’s become a gold rush,” said Danny Silverman, chief marketing officer of e-commerce analytics firm Clavis Insight. “Whether you’re a hairbrush-maker or a technology company, you’re thinking about how you can meet the needs of an aging population.”
Around 70 million more Americans from this generation will be entering retirement over the next ten years. Combine their relative affluence (70% of disposable income!) with their retirement gives them a lot of free time to shop and flex their spending powers. According to Forbes, boomers will inherit about $13 trillion over the next 20 years. Companies should then be adjusting their marketing tactics to reach this large group of consumers. Here are five things you should know about marketing to Baby Boomers:
- Baby Boomers Don’t Like to be Called ‘Old’:
Just because baby boomers are mostly retired doesn’t mean they want to sit home and watch TV all day. Many people of this generation have the financial means and the desire to pursue the activities they didn’t get the chance to do when they were raising kids or part of the workforce. These retirees plan to travel to exotic locations, go on safaris, and skydive. While the marketing tactics you’ll need to use to get their attention may be different from other demographics, don’t assume that certain products and services won’t appeal to them just because of their age.
- Baby Boomers Enjoy Reading Good Copy:
Marketers should remember that baby boomers enjoy reading, so using trendy acronyms or Internet shorthand on ad copy will not be appreciated. Boomers want to see information clearly printed out, so don’t be afraid of old-school, text-heavy advertising methods. A better approach for this generation is copy that’s straightforward, instead of today’s creative bells and whistles. Ad copy for boomers should address every possible question they might have. All the relevant answers and details should be included in direct mail ads, brochures, and on websites.
- Baby Boomers Don’t Like to be Rushed:
Aside from being more receptive to traditional marketing styles, Boomers are also very careful when making purchases. Unlike the more flighty Millennials, Boomers consider each purchase an investment and will take time to study every product before making a decision. Their static budgets also mean this group is more careful about spending outside their limits. Boomers need to trust the brand. They need to fully understand the product, identify with other users and develop a rapport with the seller before making a purchase. While salespeople and marketers might be able to close a deal with a younger demographic with just one or two calls or emails, they would probably take a longer time handling senior consumers.
- Baby Boomers Prefer a Personal Touch:
Retirees have more free time on their hands which makes them more inclined to have lengthier social interactions with family, friends, neighbors and even salespeople. This opens a singular opportunity for a sales team to create sincere relationships with these potential clients. Sales teams should be prepared to invest time with a Boomer. After all, the person at the other end has the luxury of time and willingness to listen and absorb your product’s features and value.
- Baby Boomers are Tech Savvy:
Marketers should remember that Boomers grew up with technology. This generation has made use of a plethora of different technologies since the introduction of the first black-and-white television set. This makes them unintimidated by more recent technologies like the internet or social media. In fact, the Baby Boomer generation spends as much time online as they do watching television. Studies show that 96% of Boomers use search engines, 95% use email, and 92% shop for products and services online instead of shopping in stores and shopping malls.
Meanwhile. 70% of the disposable income? Wow.
- Read the full Washington Post article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/its-become-a-gold-rush-inside-the-race-to-create-smart-shoes-custom-razors-and-high-tech-devices-for-the-over-65-crowd/2018/08/31/fd7ecbc8-a55a-11e8-97ce-cc9042272f07_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a3bc00d69dfa