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Majority of seniors say advertisers don’t treat them with respect



Beatrices wallEarlier this year, Esurance ran a TV commercial where a senior citizen tried to prove how up-to-date she was by posting her vacation photos on her “wall”. But of course, it wasn’t her Facebook wall, it was the wall in her living room. When her friends try to top her with talk about fast insurance quotes, the woman “unfriends” them. Which. . . of course. . . is not how that works. Very funny.

Not really.

This is why 60% of the seniors in a GlynnDevins survey agreed that boomers in advertising are stereotypes. Slightly more than half said they don’t feel like they get respect from advertiser and only one third said they can relate to the seniors they see in commercials. They were particularly hard on pharmaceutical and financial ads. They said that companies have a tendency to go too far in either direction – too good to be true and too bad to be true. The attractive, wealthy, jet-setting seniors were just as off-putting as the feeble, confused seniors.

Bottom line, if they can’t relate or are offended, they won’t buy and guess what. . . seniors have more buying power than you think.

Look at this chart from Business Insider:

BI Senior Chart

Only $300 per person separates the coveted Gen X buyer from the often overlooked Older Boomer. It’s also interesting how the youngest group and oldest group are almost identical. When you combine all of the “older” generation groups, you get an annual online spend of $5,000 per internet user.

The number that’s missing here is how many users are in each group. I’m sure there are more Gen Y users than Older Boomers but we’re still talking about a large group of people who could potentially buy your product.

Here’s one more interesting fact from Business Insider:

Boomers and seniors have adopted mobile commerce. One in four mobile shoppers in the U.S. is over the age of 55. That’s about even with their share of the overall U.S. population.

That brings me back to the GlynnDevins survey. 8 out of 10 seniors said they check a company’s website when they want more information. After visiting the source, women tended to ask friends and family for recommendations while men said they preferred to read reviews from strangers online. Interesting.

The bottom item on the resource poll? Social media. We keep swearing it works and the consumers keep saying it doesn’t. Go figure. And then go create a campaign aimed at baby boomers with realistic images / actors and a relatable message. Get it right and you could have that entire audience all to yourself.

  • Emma Rose

    I think this post makes a very good point. I’ll admit that I did see the ‘Esurance” commercial that you are referring to, and yes, I did think it was funny. But reading this blog post has made me re-think my reaction to that commercial. I think that you make a really good point about seniors holding a very large portion of the buying power in todays consumer society. I was even surprised to learn that most seniors don’t feel as if they can relate to the way they are portrayed in advertisements. This is a very pertinent issue that marketing professionals need to address.

  • Wellspring Benefits Group, LLC

    …..and now, we have the lady (another insurance commercial) playing ‘Candy Crush’ on her kitchen table….with real, hard candies and a hammer……seriously?!?!?