As a marketer working at Age Wave, under the tutelage of Ken Dychtwald, I learned a great deal about quantifying the senior market, identifying life stages and life events that trigger their needs and desires, and deconstructing the decision-making process of an aging consumer. This experience served me well in developing innovative campaigns to present products and services to older consumers in a variety of industries including hearing health, medical technology, health care, automotive, packaged goods and senior living.
Since then, I have become a senior consumer, myself.
I am no longer accumulating houses, cars, boats, or even clothes really. I spend much less on those things than I used to, but that doesn’t mean I am not spending. It’s just that my spending habits have changed.
Having become a grandfather, I spend on Legos (and Duplos), stuffed animals, books, balls, tricycles and scooters, cute clothes and shoes, baby furniture, zoo tickets, train rides, vacations: you name it! With the onset of this life stage, a well of love has opened from which I drink deeply every day.
Grandparenting isn’t the only factor that has changed how I consume and how I live.
A few years ago, my wife and I decided to remodel our Victorian era house to split it into two flats. We live in the lower flat (less stairs) and rent out the upper one (more retirement income). We have also added rails on our front steps, and more lights inside the house to accommodate various infirmities that have crept up over the last few years.
Most recently, we built new book cases to house a lifetime of reading. It even has a children’s section on the bottom shelves. Our granddaughter can grab what she likes, when she likes, and nothing is better than sitting with her in my lap while we “read”.
On the other side of aging, my wife and I have one parent among us who is still alive: my mother. She was a very competent parent and teacher who was able to juggle the needs of six children while going to school herself to earn her bachelor’s and then two master’s degrees. I once looked to her to care for my needs. Now we help her to run errands, visit friends and keep her apartment in order. We also play a big role in managing her health care.
Once it was clear that she was going to need assistance and care on a regular basis, we helped her to find, visit and evaluate senior communities. When she needs more care, we will help her with that as well. Having been through the process with my mother, though, has deepened my understanding, and my empathy, for people who are in this situation.
A large part of my current profession is helping senior living communities to be successful. That means managing acquisition efforts for new communities and retention efforts for existing ones. My partners and I do this through social media, video, newspaper and digital media. The goal is to create and maintain regular conversations with residents, prospects and their adult children. We understand the language to use in helping seniors make informed decisions about where to move, and what to expect.
As older Americans, my partners and I inhabit the lives of the people we serve. This gives our voices authenticity. Being older is a gift. It’s one that we share with our clients and their clients, and one that you may find useful as well.
SGD is a San Francisco Bay Area advertising, marketing and branding agency specializing in the senior and boomer markets. We’ve successfully positioned, branded and rebranded companies that market to seniors, weaving traditional and online tactics to create compelling stories that drive response.
About the Author: Duff Reiter is an Account Director / Planner at SGD Advertising specializing in senior / boomer, healthcare, lifestyle, financial, travel / leisure and technology brands since 1984.