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Do’s and Don’ts of Connecting with Boomer & Senior Markets

If you are interested in securing a competitive edge for your product in baby boomer and senior customer markets, you’ll be more successful in your efforts if you understand your market.

David B. Wolfe, noted expert on developmental relationship marketing and communicating with aging customers offers this insight. “Aging customers rely more on emotional reactions than younger adults to determine if they should think about a matter. Emotional triggers in the brain activate memories. The stronger the original emotional response to a situation, the stronger the memory will be.”

If an ad headline generates a negative first impression (or none at all) the older person is less likely than a younger customer to plunge further into the ad copy. Moreover, stories generally arouse emotions more readily than emotionally neutral expository. Research shows that the more emotionally neutral information is, the less likely the older mind will give it attention.

Admittedly David’s comments are generalities, but generalities can have value when they express verifiable central themes. As you develop marketing, advertising and sales approaches and presentations for an aging marketplace consider the following a guide to design, position, market or sell your product.


  • Learn as much as you can about physical and behavioral changes caused by the aging process. Apply your knowledge to product design, online and traditional marketing approaches.
  • Design your online promotion to allow the customer to define the service attributes using his/her imagination in terms of his/her needs and desires (referred to Conditional Positioning). Don’t try to shove ten pounds of copy into a five-pound page. Less can be more especially in the early stages of communications.
  • Design your product to meet functional, social reinforcement, and related experiences’ expectations.
  • Promote and advertise your product as a gateway to desired experiences beyond the intrinsic value of your product. What additional value (metavalue) does you product provide?
  • Be authentic and give them the facts (reduce or eliminate hyperbole).
  • Portray these populations as doing for others, as individuals, as smart, as active, as wise.
  • Use marketing and advertising firms with a demonstrated knowledge of your target markets (Check if people matching your targets age are on the creative team).
  • Use aging customers to assist in product, service and communications development.
  • Touch their hearts and they will allow you to enter their minds.


  • Underestimate the significance of these markets. They are the New Customer Majority. More than 138 million people in America are over the age of forty-five.
  • Consider age a determinant of customer behavior (there is no evidence that a person’s age is a major factor in determining buying habits). You should consider age as a correlating factor only.
  • Design or promote your services to appeal to the vulnerabilities associated with the aging process. At times they feel bad enough; you don’t have to remind them.
  • Attempt to instill a “sense of urgency” during a purchase consideration (time is usually not of the essence in their decision making process).
  • Over-embellish product or service performance claims — may be automatically perceived as misleading as would small print on product labels and advertising.
  • Stress self-indulgence – more effective in younger markets.
  • Stress images that are contrary to traditional basic values. Generally accepted universal or traditional values may include American flag, church or temple, home, traditional small town, etc.

Remember that aging customers, on average, have a superior sense of reality. Don’t succumb to the myths and stereotyping about aging that pervades our society — you may do so at the expense of the long-term potential of your business.

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