By G. Richard Ambrosius –
To say that it is time to change marketing paradigms to connect with an aging marketplace is what author Tom Peters would call “a blinding flash of the obvious.” Yesterday’s marketing rules worked in the youth driven markets of the yesterday, but the return on investment in advertising began a downward slide as leading edge baby boomers swelled the ranks of age 50 plus customers. Today’s marketing messages just are not getting through.
To understand why, marketers must first learn a little about message processing. The brain works like a sieve, not a sponge, sorting through billions of pieces of information to select things for the conscious mind to think about, which takes about .2 to .8 of one second per signal. Moreover, the brain does not process words; but reviews pictures and sensory data triggered by words in context with the circumstances, life experience and their value programming.
The marketer’s goal is to get your message through the screening sieve, and to do so it must resonate with the consumer’s core values. If you use terms like SENIOR and there is a perception that “senior” means old, frail, or dependent, the mind may “exclude” whatever message is associated with the term senior from conscious consideration. In other words, the targeted customer may detect what you are trying to tell them; however, if their brains sense personal relevance, the message will never be processed.
It is time to abandon much of the “vocabulary of aging” due to years of negative stereotyping (senior, retirement, and resident). These and other terms must be replaced with more inclusive terms, which project a positive, mindful image of aging. If positive images are supported by inclusionary terms, the brain is less likely to block the message. Even if 70% of your prospects have no problem with the term senior, but 30% do; why would you purposely eliminate up to 1/3 of potential consumers on purpose?
It is time to view the market with a new lens. The youth lens of yesterday is out of focus. The rules and tools needed to grind a new lens for future success are readily available to those with the vision to use them. As paradigms change, perhaps we will once again view later life as the crown jewel of the human experience – a time to celebrate our individual uniqueness and worth and again revere the wisdom of age.