Allen Baler: Neglecting Seniors a Big Mistake for Entrepreneurs

Fifteen years from now, something will happen for the first time in American history. People ages 18 and younger will be outnumbered by those 65 and older. And even sooner, there will be more 55-year-olds in the world than 5-year-olds.


Of course, it’s already going in this direction. The huge population segment known as Baby Boomers is aging gracefully and remains a major force in the economy. The youngest among this generation are 55 years old and have plans to work another 10 to 15 years.


Everyone knows this, but only a few people are doing anything about it. In particular, entrepreneurs and advertisers are largely ignoring seniors, despite their growing size and disposable income. Sure, there are companies selling walk-in bathtubs and others letting older folks know what to do when they fall and can’t get up.


Many Advertisers Missing the Huge Opportunity of Marketing to Seniors


But as a general rule, seniors are being overlooked as consumers. The Havas Group, a multinational advertising and public relations company based in Paris, tells us that only 5 percent of U.S. advertising is geared toward people 50 years of age and older.


Why? Because seniors don’t drive enough. They don’t eat enough. They don’t drink enough. They don’t… well, you get the idea.


At least that’s what many people think. However, seniors are working longer and have much more buying potential than millennials and Generation Z – two groups that many entrepreneurs and advertisers are tripping over themselves to attract.


Older Americans Have the Most Cash to Spend


How’s this for an eye-opening statistic? According to the Euromonitor International, a market research firm headquartered in London, 70 percent of all available income in the U.S. is owned by people 55 years of age or older.


Don’t get me wrong. Appealing to young adults is a wise strategy. Companies that earn brand loyalty from younger groups of people are putting themselves in a position to reap benefits for decades to come.


But ignoring seniors is not a wise strategy. And the sooner companies realize this, the sooner they will begin to profit from this group.


Dispelling “Age-Old” Myths About Seniors is the First Step


Now, if seniors are a potential target audience for you as an entrepreneur, there are a few things you should know about them before you start to reach out to gain their business. Here are a few of them.


They’re not all the same. Baby Boomers, for example, range in age right now from 55 to 73. Of course, some seniors are even older, but they’re all continuing to make purchases on a daily basis. Don’t make the mistake of lumping them in one big category. Some are conservative, others are liberal. Some are savers, others are spenders. Some are very active, others are sedentary.


They’re not all tech-challenged. My company, 4Patriots, has a significant number of seniors as customers. A couple of years ago, we were very surprised to learn that a significant percentage of our audience was accessing our emails and websites via mobile devices. And that percentage has grown since then. No, they’re not as tech savvy as people in their 20s, but they’re not as far behind as one might think. The Havas Group says that more than two-thirds of seniors are making online purchases at least once a month.


They’re focused on health. Even the youngest and healthiest of seniors understand that it’s just a matter of time before they’re going to need more healthcare and additional healthcare products. In the meantime, many are interested in non-pharmaceutical products that can benefit their general wellbeing.


They want to age in place. The number one goal for many aging seniors is staying out of a nursing home. Products that allow them to live as independently as possible for as long as possible will continue to gain more traction. Voice-based products, in particular, are likely to increase in popularity for the foreseeable future.


If you have a product that seniors might be just as interested in as anyone else, make a special effort to attract their attention. You may be surprised at the result.


Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville, TN.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.


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