I was in Boston yesterday judging the NEDMA awards, I had the chance to see a reprise of Kurt Medina’s intriguing presentation on the 77 truths of marketing to the 50+ "mature market" consumer that he first gave during the DMA conference several months ago.  The talk was full of useful data and insights, but there were several that he shared which really illustrated how unique (and often ignored or misunderstood) this demographic is.  Below are six insights from his speech that I found most useful:

  1. The "Mature Market" is actually 3 markets. There are pre-retirees (50-62), active retirees (63-74) and seniors (75+).  Every smart marketer to this segment knows that these are three very different groups and markets to them differently.  AARP’s magazine has three different versions, segmented in this way. Each has different advertising and editorial.
  2. Terminology is a big deal.  The words "Senior" and "Retired" should be used with care.  Senior often goes along with discounts … so using it without a price break could be confusing.  No one likes the term retired.  The term "Grandparents", however, has lots of positive connotations and can be used quite effectively.
  3. Online DOES still matter. When going after this market, there is a temptation to forget about the Internet.  But a growing number of 50+ consumers are online, and this will continue to increase as more boomers age.  Online, things like Send-to-a-Friend functionality really works with this audience as they like to pass along messages.  Smart accessible design is also a must.
  4. Don’t underestimate the desire for independence. No 50+ consumer wants to lose their independence – and all want to avoid being dependent on anyone else or to become a burden.  They want more control in their life. Using imagery showing people taking this control work – and positioning products or services to help this independence is key.
  5. Design for readability.  This is not just about making text bigger, though that helps.  Blues, purples and greens all meld together. Text on top of images or reverse text is often illegible. Glossy print pieces can be hard to read. Focus on high contrast design and use as many icons or images as possible.
  6. Acknowledge abilities, not inabilities. Every 50+ consumer has ailments, from arthritis to a host of other chronic medical conditions – but they don’t need to be reminded of it.  Just accept that they have these constraints, move on, and focus your message on the positive. 

To get Kurt Medina’s book with all 77 truths, go here.