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Seniors: Our underestimated prospects

We’re all aware of the Baby Boomers — that huge generation born between ’46 and ’64. There are 76 million of them. They represent 27 percent of the population, a titanic target market and, clearly, our industry is taking aim at them. The best example of that is the re-designed website with an excellent boomer section. It even features the nation’s first boomer born, according to the government. She is Kathy Casy-Kirschling, 62, a boater whose boat is appropriately named “First Boomer.” 

But the development of new feature sections for shouldn’t stop there. It’s time to also recognize that seniors (born before ’46) may be our most underestimated market today. While not quite as big a target as the Boomers, there are still an estimated 55 million seniors nationally. What’s more, these people don’t even like to be called “Seniors” because they believe they’re just middle aged. And, they’re writing a new script for getting older anchored in active lifestyles, claims Margaret Morganroth Gullette in her book “Declining to Decline.” 

These new “middle agers,” some retired and some still working, are already far more active than their predecessors. Equally important, they also have the most wealth per capita in the country today! That makes them another prime target group for our marketing because boating is a perfect fit for their active living. Innovations like joy stick docking, wider stairs replacing old ladders to the bridge, big-screen electronics at the helm and much more make boating easier and more accessible to them.

In Aging Today, editor Paul Kleyman holds that relatively little marketing is really being done to this segment. It reflects an underlying negative attitude of younger advertising executives about older audiences.

I suppose it is hard for an ad agency copywriter in his or her 30’s to think the new “middle agers” are cool. But, the truth is, if we combine the Boomers and the new “middle agers” we’re talking about 70 percent of all purchasing power.

So, let’s keep up our appeal to the boomers who are sure to be more active and live longer in good health than any previous generation in history. But let’s cash in on the whole picture by appealing to the new ‘middle agers” who are already living the active lifestyle.


4 comments on “Seniors: Our underestimated prospects

  1. pedro

    I love Norm’s articles, but he’s dreaming here. As a retired executive from our industry I sure wish this were true, but if you haven’t had good experiences when you were younger you aren’t going to be enticed by the best ads in the world when you are 60+.

    PS – gas at our marina (near Crystal River, Fl.) was $5.40 last thursday! Sell that to a prospective

  2. Van Snider

    Norm, I think the most effecting marketing to the “born before 46″ group as well as the “older” baby boomers, should be based on the concept of providing quality time with grandkids via boating. When it comes to spending money, Grandparents just can’t resist spending dollars that related to their grandkids. I know my grandchildren always want to go with Grandpa to the boat. Anyone working this approach?

  3. Paul K

    Norm, I agree with you almost 100%. Boomers are looking for new experiences — trying and deciding what appeals to them. And, they want to learn. In my opinion (IMO, for the text crowd), the key to this market is Education and Boat Renting. “Education” in the sense of boating rules, navigation, history, environmental issues, etc… The Boomer generation values education and experiential learning. “Boat renting” in the sense of “try before you buy.” After all, it is a big invenstment to make. Or, perhaps, tie boating to other learning experiences, like snorkeling or scuba diving or fishing.

    Why “almost 100%?” Only because a good copywriter or marketing person can research a market and design advertising without being part of that demographic. This can be seen in some of the most successful ads of all time.

    I enjoy your articles!

  4. dave boso

    You know it is true the senior professionals will be a good target for our sales efforts , even the seniors that worked at good jobs, have an education, have some 401k, or have some fund money,
    But here in the “boonies” we have a bunch of senoirs that when approached to buy” oh I’m on a fixed income” I can’y buy that.

    Well I have suspected for years that the only guy in this world that’s not on a fixed income is a bugular, he can decide to rob your house tonight ,or not.

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