Life Changes, Life Choices in 2012
Mature market consumers can hardly be understood without a clear view of their varied, specific experiences in mind. As businesses fully appreciate the mature market and it’s formidable spending power, smart marketers will segment these consumers with respect to several unique considerations.
A momentous paring of powerful demographic events has just occurred — the 65+ are the fastest-growing segment of our population — and every 8 seconds, a “leading edge” boomer is having a 66th birthday in 2012. And remember, there are 80 million of them out there. Corporate America is unprepared for this demographic revolution.
As baby boomers join this fast moving parade to seniorhood, the market is being redefined by a generally more wealthy, demanding consumer. Cognizant of substantial revenue at stake, advisors, marketers, advertisers and sales professionals are striving to understand and connect with their mature target market. In doing so, it is essential that your differentiation and segmentation are based on more than just age.
Older consumers are not one simple category, and should not be approached as such. Instead, successful marketers will segment their mature target market into sub-groups, according to health status, life stages, socioeconomic circumstances, values, generational cohort and personal histories. Keep in mind, your own age and life experience as a marketer will influence your ability to empathize and understand the life changes that define your older customer.
For instance, a person’s health status has a dramatic influence on their perspective. Chronic conditions are a natural part of the aging process and your mature target market will include people dealing with a very wide range of issues, some more serious than others. They may suffer from arthritis, impaired vision, changing metabolism, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, menopause, prostate problems, Alzheimer’s, or some combination of more than one of the above. Are these customers sick or well? They’re both, and they will in most cases manage these conditions seamlessly for many years. Communicators with any segment of the mature market should be mindful of the influence these evolving conditions will have on their customers’ needs, perceptions and choices.
Research has also shown that consumers’ life stages have perhaps the most profound impact on their thinking and behaviors. Life stages define the way people look at the world at any given moment. For example, some mature market consumers are dual income and have kids at home. Others may be empty-nesters enjoying their new found freedom whose adult child just lost a job and has moved back home. Your target customer may be a grandparent, retired but still working part-time. Older seniors may be struggling with the loss of the spouse; this may leave them with financial concerns or symptoms of depression, even if they never dealt with these problems previously.
Another may find that their caregiving responsibilities for a loved one in another state occupy nearly every waking thought. Nearly 50 million Americans define themselves as “caregivers” today. This is a massive area of need and opportunity currently being overlooked by many companies.
The point — at any given moment, your customers defining life stages will determine the messages they will tune into, the advice they need or the products they will buy.
The bottom line is this — with every “life change” comes an array of important “life choices”. It is critical to understand your customers’ “life changes” so you can be there to participate in their important “life choices”. These are “triggering events” and it is critical that you are prepared to engage clients at these life-choice moments.
Understanding how these scenarios define and influence your customer is essential to serving them as effectively, conscientiously, and profitably as possible. Don’t gloss over available data on your target market, but incorporate it into strategy and, where possible, conduct your own research into developing lifestage driven profiles of the customers you seek to reach.