Older americans ages 55 and over have significant buying power. They represent about 29 percent of the population and control approximately 50 percent of discretionary spending. They are also very savvy consumers. That makes understanding their needs and their view of the world essential when you are marketing to this unique group.
Who Are They Really?
Defining the over 55 isn’t easy. They are very diverse in their opinions and lifestyles. However, they also share some universal viewpoints. For example, they prefer privacy and self-sufficiency. They desire independence, both physically and in their lifestyle. Many are still looking to grow and expand their horizons. They are ready and able to try new things and explore what they missed earlier in their lives.
At the same time, there is a segment of the group that has a need to feel connected and be part of a like-minded community. They also want and often demand respect. And, when it comes to purchases of any kind, they want value. They believe they worked hard for their money.
To better define this mature market, you first need to segment them by age and then by their vision of life. Here’s a look at the three primary age segments and how many in this group see themselves.
Mid-Lifers (Ages 50 to 61)
Mid-lifers or pre-retirees don’t see themselves as old. Most believe age is only a number. Although many are grandparents, they are not seniors as they see it; seniors are their parents and grandparents. It can be a big mistake to use a “senior discount” strategy by itself when you target this segment. A “think young” strategy should be included.
Most members in this group are more technologically savvy. than you might think They can use a computer and still buy fun vehicles, purchase new homes, and travel. They are also choosing healthier lifestyles. However, they are less loyal. If you don’t provide what they need or the value they want, they will go elsewhere.
Many also view financial services as a commodity. In addition, their nests are already empty or soon will be. They are in the position to explore new things and are much younger in their thinking than many believe. That's why it’s important that younger, and less experienced credit union service and marketing staff, understand that these members are not “old”, and that they shouldn't be treated or marketed to as if they are. A condescending attitude is a huge mistake.