Older Adults in a Multigenerational MarketplaceAugust 14, 2017
Today’s active consumers span four generations—Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials—each with unique perspectives on everything from values to managing and spending money. Customer retention research reveals that recognizing demographic differences in the multigenerational marketplace, is the first step your company should take to help better identify customer needs and provide the right products and services that will encourage engagement and retention.
Let’s face it, a one-sized fits all approach to providing products and services doesn’t work, especially if your customers are multigenerational. In the age of the consumer, customers expect customization—and most personalization is based on online behavioral data. Millennials spend about twice as much time online than any other generation with the same buying power, so your ROI on personalization targeting for younger generations is likely to be much higher than it is for others. But what about your customers that don’t spend as much time online?
Understanding Traditionalists and Baby Boomers
A lot of companies are obsessed with understanding Millennials’ mindset, as they’re America’s largest living generation—surpassing Baby Boomers in not only sheer numbers but in diversity, providing new revenue opportunities. But by neglecting your other, older customers or even attempting to bridge generational divides with generic offerings, your company may be missing an opportunity to truly connect with the rest of your customer base who have their own way of doing things and expectations about how they want to engage with your brand.
Older adults, which include Traditionalists and Baby Boomers shouldn’t be overlooked, as these generations still control a large part of American spending power and have unique preferences on how they want to interact with brands. Devoting time to listen and really understand their likings could be the key to providing value-added products and services that will not only empower these customers, but help your brand build a closer B2C relationship with a demographic that places high value on loyalty.
Are You Still Referring to Your Older Customers as Senior Citizens?
Older adults are more active than ever and calling them senior citizens may even be passé when engaging with them. As times have changed, words to accurately describe Traditionalists and Baby Boomers have also progressed. But when your customers approach retirement, priorities do change.
“The thing is, they [senior citizens] just don’t relate to the way many people over 65 are living their lives these days. They’re working. They’re traveling. They’re volunteering. They spend a lot of money.”
– Ina Jaffe, NPR Host (2016)
And as their priorities change, your company can offer products and services that are attuned to their evolving lifestyle choices. Here’s a quick breakdown of what recent retention research has revealed about older adult consumer preferences:
Traditionalists (aged 70+)
- Many are still very active and don’t like to be regarded as “old or dependent”.
- Although they’re online, they generally respond better to traditional engagement, e.g., live customer service, and brick-and-mortar shopping and banking
- They seek comfort and value for money—and generally do not make impulsive purchases.
- Generally, they appreciate helpful tips more than the average consumer.
Baby Boomers (aged 53+)
- Many are reaching retirement age and will be adjusting their incomes accordingly; they describe themselves as “price savvy”.
- Generally, they value both traditional and digital engagement with brands—and testimonials really resonate with them.
- They enjoy convenience and wide variety of options.
73% of Traditionalists and 63% of Baby Boomers still prefer to interact with brands in person whenever possible.
–The Marketing Scope, 2017
Retention Research Reveals You Can Buy Happiness
Many older adults enjoy independence but also want safety, convenience and comfort—and they’re willing to pay for it. Moreover, a recent New York Times study suggests that you can buy happiness if you’re using money to save time.
“[It is important to communicate to older adults] how your product or service will provide or increase security, enhance their independence, contribute toward a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle or enhance their family relationships.”
–Senior Living, 2015
In considering these insights when offering products and services to older generations, ensure that your products and services:
- Provide comfort and a sense of safety.
- Assist in simplifying their lives; essentially saving time.
- Are robust, including multiple touchpoint options (e.g., face to face, phone and email).
When selecting products that your company plans to sell to older generations, you can work with vetted third-party vendors to round out your portfolio of offerings to meet these customers’ needs.
Don’t Forget About Quality Customer Service
Our award-winning customer service department assists a multigenerational customer base 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. We asked our team for feedback about their interactions with older customers, they shared a resonating theme: patience.
Customer retention research has revealed that on average, older adults spend more time on the phone with a customer service representative, as opposed to a younger demographic who prefer a quick fix. In providing assistance, a level of comfort and a sense of safety—patience can be a literal virtue to enhancing older adult customer engagement.
Here are some testimonials from our Traditionalist and Baby Boomer customers:
“Thank you for your professionalism and patience.”
“Thank you so much for your help; thank you for your patience and understanding and for providing a solution to my problem.”
“Thank you for your patience, time and hard work.”
Safety, Convenience and Comfort
When engaging older generations—honing how your products and services increase security, save time and contribute to an overall sense of comfort and simply enjoying life—can help establish loyalty with your brand.
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