How do you reach a new generation?

When creating a good content strategy, it's important to know your target group. What concerns them? What do they think is important? What motivates them? And what will make them buy from you more often?  Questions that arise from research are often answered by thinking like the target group. That's fine as long as the target group is close to you, but it becomes a lot harder if you are a bit further distanced from them. In order to appeal to such a new generation, marketers like to use influencers who operate at the heart of the new generation. This new generation is always the young, which is a pity really! The fact is that the elderly are also a new generation for marketers - a generation that marketers hardly know and one that is developing at lightning speed. And it has two big advantages: it is a fast-growing group and the elderly have money to spend.

Before we can provide insights into the target group of elderly or senior citizens, we will have to define their age.  When are you elderly and when are you a senior citizen? We use the age of 65 and older. Although always debatable, this is the age at which consumers generally enter a new phase of life: their children have finally left home; they have, or will soon have, grandchildren; and they have more free time due to (approaching) retirement.

 

To give an idea of the opportunities that this target group offers, we would like to share some hard figures about senior citizens. In 2015, the Netherlands had 3 million people over 65, representing about 20% of the population. This becomes more interesting when we look at the expected growth of this group. According to Statistics Netherlands, this group is expected to have grown by 41% by 2030, which amounts to 4.25 million people aged 65 and older (at least a quarter of the Dutch population). So in the coming years, one in four consumers will be 65 or older.

It will come as no surprise that this group has more disposable income. Their homes are often paid off; their children have left home, so household expenditure is lower; they already own many durable goods; and salaries are at the maximum. In 2030, 35% of all consumer spending will be by senior citizens. That is considerably higher in proportion to the number making up this group.

However, spending will shift in the coming years. Older people are becoming younger, more vital and will focus more on enjoying and experiencing life (ING Economisch Bureau 2016). Spending will therefore be more in these categories.

Senior citizens also more than hold their own online. Although there is still a division between the 65 to 75-year-olds and those over 75, an average of 80% have access to the Internet. 65% of these people sometimes make online purchases (CBS 2016) and this percentage is rising rapidly due to new entrants (81% of the age group 45 to 65 - those who will soon join the over-65s - make online purchases). We can only conclude that this is a very promising target group. It's a group that wants to feel heard but is not understood by today's marketer (aged 25-45 years), and is frankly often ignored.

Content is rarely geared to this target group. In general, retailers and marketing departments mostly focus on the 25 to 49 age-group. Senior citizens themselves say that when the older group is actually targeted, it is rarely done in the right way. It is mainly content that focuses on the stereotype senior citizen (a cheerful grey-haired featherbrain who needs a hearing aid or walk-in shower and is helped by a young hero). This often does not match the lifestyle of the over-sixties. For example, most senior citizens often walk, cycle and like gardening, but that vitality is rarely portrayed. Portrayals are based on what senior citizens can no longer do, while they prefer to associate themselves with what they can all do.

This is also reflected in magazines and folders. For example, female models are almost always depicted between 25 and 35 and hardly any older models are photographed. It is thought that this appeals to a broader target group, but this promising target group sees this rather differently. Also shops and webshops are often unattractive for older people. So they also say that it's increasingly difficult to shop.

The average shopping street is mainly peopled with older consumers during the day. In spite of this, clothes stores in particular have loud dance music blasting from speakers, and the aisles in these shops are often very narrow. Notices and labels that are hard to read, and small fitting rooms, also put off older people. Online shopping can also be made more attractive for the elderly. Text is often hard to read and navigation is often not intuitive and therefore difficult to understand.

Faced with a group that is growing so rapidly and can generate a lot of turnover, the retailer will have to start thinking seriously about content for older people. How is your shop relevant? What changes in content should be made to address this group, and how can communication differentiate? Content can be adapted by acquiring good insights into the customer journeys of the various target groups. Flexible content is key! Do you have a lot of older people in your shop during the day, and young adults at the weekend? Make sure you can show different messages with digital content. But it starts with good insights into the target group. We advise everyone to engage with the target group and we can assure you that surprising, useful insights will follow immediately.