Outreach efforts mature to appeal to an older audience

For the next 19 years, nearly 10,000 people a day will turn 65 years old in the US, according to Pew Research Center.

For the next 19 years, nearly 10,000 people a day will turn 65 years old in the US, according to Pew Research Center. This growing demographic opens up many marketing opportunities.

"Knowing this, along with this audience's discretionary income, we all must think about it on all the brands we work on," says Denise Vitola, SVP and deputy director of the personal care practice at MSLGroup.

She says Baby Boomers are the "wealthiest, best educated, and most sophisticated purchasers," which is why a unique marketing approach is required.

For Procter & Gamble's Fixodent denture adhesives brand, an MSLGroup client, Vitola says the agency targets consumers who are 50 years of age and older by appealing to their emotions.

"We're not telling them something needs fixing," she explains. "We want to inspire them and build an emotional connection by making them feel good and hip."

Sites for seniors
Fixodent and MSLGroup have been reaching these consumers through dentureliving.com, a site where people can get information about dentures and talk to other consumers about denture-related issues, says Marchoe Northern, associate MD of North America oral care for P&G.

Northern says Fixodent amped up PR last year by breaking out of its traditional strategies.

"The challenge is not to believe that only traditional media works for seniors," she adds. "They're just as savvy as young consumers. Their kids, grandkids, everyone is getting them involved in experiencing media like we all do."

Home care services company Nurse Next Door, which recently expanded into the US from Canada, also uses social media to engage its target demographic of 75-year-olds and up.

The company used to have a blog penned by staffers about how to care for senior citizens, but at the end of 2011, Nurse Next Door launched a new blog called "Words from the Wise," aimed at connecting with the senior audience. Now all of the posts are from "real seniors with real stories," says John DeHart, cofounder and co-CEO of Nurse Next Door.

"With seniors," he explains, "it's all about building trust."

While Nurse Next Door incorporates social media into its marketing tactics, DeHart says it's a "very long-term strategy."

"We won't have thousands of seniors following us on Twitter overnight," he explains, which is why the company focuses on slowly connecting with the demographic through social media.

In addition to digital outreach, Nurse Next Door uses direct mail because seniors "still want that personal touch," DeHart says.

Focus on experience
Martino & Binzer, a marketing firm specializing in communicating to senior citizens, uses experiential marketing to reach this audience. President David Martino says it's about creating open dialogue and authentic brands.

"Seniors are so typically disappointed with customer service today," he notes. "In order to have a true brand advocate, you must figure out a way to create positive experiences that are as much about what they experienced in the past as what they are going to experience in the future."

For most clients, many of which are senior-living communities, Martino & Binzer focuses on event marketing to introduce seniors to a brand. Martino says the key to getting an older audience to participate in an experience is to make sure the event is perceived as "high value and low commitment" because seniors often don't seek change and tend to be more cautious purchasers than younger demographics.

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