How To Market To Older Consumers And Grow Your Business

Here’s an interview with Patrick Dixon in which he cites a number of examples of how businesses are failing to meet the needs of ageing consumers.


Some interesting truths he cites:

  • Over 75% of all UK and American wealth is now owned by those over the age of 65 and most of them are women. So you could say that older women own most of America and the UK. In Italy by 2026 there will be over a million people living over the age of 90 – and this mainly female group will be large enough to decide every election result. We will see a similar situation in Germany and many other nations. Yet despite all this, most businesses fail to meet the needs of older people.
  • Older clients think and feel differently – but not as much as you may imagine. Today’s 75 year olds are as young physically as people were when they were 65 just 15-20 years ago – and often think like 55 year olds used to back then.
  • Many retail brands, travel companies and other businesses are starting to target older people much more actively – because there are so many of them, they are rapidly growing in number, and many of them also have money to spend.
  • In many European cities one of the main groups eating in restaurants are those over 50, yet very few 50 year olds are able to read a menu by candelight without their reading glasses. That is because the menus are usually designed by young people in print shops not for senior citizens. What a crazy situation.
  • I had been using a razor for the last two years without realising. The reason was that their logo on the razor was very small and invisible to me without glasses on – and I don’t take glasses into the bathroom.
  • Airlines to not provide do not have enough toilets on planes for older men who may need to go and relieve themselves frequently and at short notice .
  • In a beautiful Portuguese hotel – there were several steps inside my bedroom to go from one are to another. Dangerous for an older person at night and hard to use during the day.
  • Take banking services for wealthy people. The relationship managers are often young enough to be their grandchildren. These important clients may prefer banking advisors that remind them of their own children – a generation older.
  • Older people are less easily impressed by the latest fashion. They are more interested in quality, how long things last, value for money, and are unlikely to be rushed into a decision. But older people are also very loyal. They are more likely to stay with brands they trust and to promote them to their friends.
  • As companies get better at thinking about older people, they will not only be able to sell more to them, but also be better at employing them. For example, many retail stores are discovering that older people are wonderful employees as store guides and sources of information. They are patient, know a lot and have a good understanding of the needs of customers – not just ones that are older. Older people are more likely than many young people to get out of bed on time in the morning. They may not always be as fast, but they are often more reliable.
  • As in every age group, it is vital to understand how different communties behave – even in the same town or city. They may have different languages, cultures, traditions, social backgrounds and different education. Their life histories may be very different and we need to understand all these things. When marketing to an older person, the journey of life they have travelled is very important to understand.
  • It is true that many marketers aim for children to get them to influence their parents…. and this can happen in middle life, with parents of children also influencing the grandparents. But the most powerful thing is to market direct to older people, in ways they relate to.
  • Perception of time and speed of change and how it changes as we get older. Speed of change. How older and younger people respond to change. Wisdom and experience at work. How older people sacrifice themselves for younger generations. Older consumers and customers – and the importance of family in their spending decisions. Political movements and older voters – politicians appealing to older people. Importance of employing older workers and later retirement age. Age discrimination and forced retirement. Senior citizens in workplace.

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