Older consumers like discounts – but not the ‘Senior Discount’

Baby Boomers are torn between wanting a discount and refusing to admit to senior status. While this story is written from the perspective of the American consumer, it can be applied almost universally to older consumers throughout the developed world because most of us are in various states of denial.

This entertaining article in Time suggests the solution may be a silly game of semantics. Restaurants, associations, and various businesses often replace the phrase “senior discount” with something less overtly age-based, so as not to turn off the lucrative boomer customer base. The AARP welcomes “members” (not “seniors”) starting at age 50, and all the perks are referred to as “member benefits,” not senior benefits or senior discounts. The word “senior” never pops up in the list of discounts at the boomer-specialty site StageofLife.com either.

The article tackles another important issue; whether or not boomers or seniors actually deserve discounts simply because they’ve managed to reach the age of 50, or 62, or 70. USA Today published an op-ed arguing that all senior discounts should be killed because, by and large, older folks are wealthier than the average citizen, and it’s the young who are essentially subsidizing the discounts enjoyed by their older, richer counterparts. The rant, penned by someone old enough to enjoy the full range of senior (or “boomer”) discounts, ended as follows:

“What I wonder about is why thirty- and fortysomethings aren’t livid that senior citizens — the most pampered, patronized and pandered-to group in America — get to save money simply by maintaining a pulse”.