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Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Age Seniors

Once upon a time, people over the age of 55 were considered “upper demos” by most marketing and media companies. No more.

For years now, I’ve been asking folks to accept that longer life expectancies mean more than just living longer. People are living healthier longer, and they’re staying active longer. And they’ve behaving in ways that have huge implications for today’s marketer.

For example: Retirement funds have to last longer. (It’s a simple math problem.) So today’s senior is more likely to work, at least part time. They want an income so that they can tap the savings account later—or less often—and maintain a lifestyle rich with activity. Important note: The new job for a 60+ person is not just about earning fun money. We’re finding that more and more people are retiring from the job they’ve always had to have (for economic reasons)… to take the job they’ve always wanted to have! (If someone has spent 30 years as an accountant, in an interior office with no windows and little human contact… their “2nd life” job might involve working at retail, or at the zoo, or anywhere they can get something the previous job didn’t offer.)

Need more proof about how dramatically different today’s senior is behaving? Visit this story from the New York Times. You’ll realize just how much muscle this market has!

Implications: Remind your HR department that some of their next “best recruits” might be “2nd Life Seniors.” If you’re in retail, consider offering “Experiential Value-Added,” rather than just a discount, for seniors. But above all… take another look at the market of New Age Seniors. They’re not your parents’ grandparents.

Mike Anderson

The increasing need for evidence

It seems like everyone is selling something “green.” Products made from recycled this or recyclable that, or companies whose behavior is alleged to be environmentally friendly in some way. Making these claims might seem as easy as hiring a clever copywriter. But some consumer groups—and the FTC—are beginning to think of many of these claims as just another puff of greenhouse gas.

According to a recent story in Marketing Daily, the FTC last considered the topic of “green marketing” in 1998. (And back then, as the story mentions, consumers hadn’t even heard of “carbon footprint.”) But the commission seems intent on reconsidering the definitions for “green marketing,” and further scrutiny of both packaging and advertising claims related to those terms.

The FTC isn’t the only point of inquiry. Consumers, themselves, are increasingly apt to investigate whether environmentally-friendly claims have merit, according to the Center for Media Research. They recently published a story asserting that only 12.1% “always” believe green advertising claims. And 41.6% of consumers at least occasionally research the claims made in green advertisements.

Implications: It is not enough for a company to craft advertising slogans or positioning statements with a green theme. Consumers are less likely to believe in such boasts, and indeed, more and more likely to go online and investigate details about a product's environmental impact. If you don’t have a legitimate claim to being environmentally responsible, advertising such is likely to do more harm than good. If you DO have a bona fide product or process which is eco-friendly, don’t just claim, demonstrate it. Provide the information and transparency that some consumers will demand before buying-in to the claim you’re selling.

Mike Anderson