In his 2017 book, The Longevity Economy, Joseph Coughlin shared that boomers (those born between 1946-1964) have an average annual disposable income of about 24k. He also noted that consumers who are 50 and older control the strong majority of household wealth in the U.S.
Marketers Don’t Always Understand Us
According to a 2014 fact sheet from AARP, there were 108.7 million people in the U.S. who were 50+ and older. This number is only expected to grow over the next few years. Because of our sheer size and the household wealth we control, we should be a highly sought-after group from a marketing perspective. Yet studies have suggested that even when marketers make efforts to reach our demographic, we are often misunderstood.
See Us as We See Ourselves: Full of Life and Wanting Meaningful Experiences
Ken Dychwald, who contributed to Paul Irving’s 2014 book, The Upside of Aging, noted that some studies have found that people over 50 often tend to feel younger than their actual years—sometimes as much as 10 to 15 years younger. Dychwald advises that people trying to market to boomers need to target our perceived age, not our physical age.
Many of us see ourselves as energetic individuals interested in living life to the fullest. We also want new and meaningful experiences. As Joseph Coughlin, the director and founder of the MIT AgeLab expressed it in his book, “as we grow older, we want—above almost all else—to experience and do meaningful things.”
Local Winery Offers Meaningful Experiences that Appeal to Older Adults
Some of the local wineries near my home have done a great job of creating meaningful experiences for their customers. One local winery I always enjoy visiting is Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards. In fact, I’ve been one of their wine club members for at least ten years.
I first visited the Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards wine tasting room with a friend from Portland. Each tasting was paired with a little food and a bit of education about the particular wine varietal we were sampling. After a relaxed visit and some good conversation, we both joined the wine club and left with a few bottles of award-winning wines.
I usually bring out-of-town visitors to this winery because it is a special experience we can share. The winery has a wine cave area and outdoor tables where you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind tasting experience. In addition, they have various events throughout the year including dinners and outdoor concerts.
Create the Right Experiences and We’ll Be Your Loyal Customers and We’ll Share with Others
As you’ve probably guessed, I do enjoy good wine. Of course, it’s true that I could locate some fairly decent bottles of wine at some grocery stores in the area. However, I’m willing to pay a bit more and buy directly from my favorite wineries when time allows. Why? Because I want to have a special experience. I like to invite friends to share experiences along with me. And, I like to tell others about businesses that create great experiences for their customers.
Think Outside Traditional Assumptions
I used to travel around the country conducting workshops for educators. Instead of offering workshops in traditional meeting areas, I quickly learned how much participants valued a unique experience. When I started holding workshops at interesting places like McMenamin’s Hotel and Resort at Edgefield, enrollment and participant enthusiasm increased—especially among older educators.
Think about why ‘sip and paint’ classes have become popular among older women in particular. Instead of buying supplies for a traditional class, participants get to have fun, feel creative, and enjoy some wine with friends.
Consider ways you can offer positive learning experiences when selling new technologies to older consumers. The majority of baby boomers already own smartphones and use the Internet, so don’t assume we don’t want to keep learning. Teach us, show us, help us explore new and useful technology.
Because many of us want to stay healthy and fit as we age, this means there are all kinds of opportunities to create events, trips involving hikes, or even skydiving adventures with family.
See us the way we see ourselves. If you do, you will more than likely be able to tap into a huge and growing demographic market.