While firms seem to focus on millennials and other Gen Y or Z, purchasing power belongs to what we like to call “seniors”. 10 years from now, people over the age of 60 will represent 30% of the world’s population and will account for 59% of global purchasing power. Yet, too often they are overlooked. Stigmatized and misunderstood, the “new seniors” deserve all our attention. How can brands be relevant when addressing that target which represents a real cross-sector opportunity?

 

Retirement is definitely not a defeat!

 Seniors look less and less like the representations we have of them. They are connected (10 million French internet surfers), some of them are still at work (global extension of the retirement age) and live longer in good health (increase in life expectancy). It is necessary to focus on lifestyles rather than on a segmentation based on the age criterion. 4 behavioral profiles stand out: traditionalists (37%), adventurers (37%), achievers (17%) and activists (11%).

 Even if some grey hair start to appear in adverts and commercials in the name of inclusiveness, our representations of “seniors” needs freshening up! On Shutterstock, the images available are not in line with the social evolutions and when we google “retirement”, insurance companies, legal and financial aid come first. Similarly, the “silver economy” still mainly relies on the ideas of assistance: autonomy, social ties and care.

This lack of consideration is more and more challenged by public opinion.

 

Boomers are coming!

We have conducted a survey to help brands rethink their offers, services and experiences to better take into account these new expectations. 

Let’s do away with “the retired”, “the seniors”, “the elderly”; they do not recognize themselves in these denominations and 80% of them consider they are stereotyped in advertising. We will from now call these “new seniors” Boomers in reference to the baby-boomers, the people born between 1945 and 1964.

 Even if retirement is a tipping point that marks a major change regarding people’s views of their bodies, of time and of their relations to others, it is far from being experienced as a fall, contrary to what the literature targeting pre-retired people suggests. Retirement is more like a fresh start, a rise: “Retirement means no stress, good vibes only”.

Letting go with all constraints, Boomers want more to be useful than to keep busy. There is a switch from a search for things to do to a search for meaning: “retirement is the time to make choices, to finally be oneself”. Fun fact: the rate of divorces after the age 60 has increased by 40%. Boomers focus on what truly matters including themselves, their desires, their interests – even sometimes their studies. Retirement is experienced as a continuation; it is an extension of what happened before and there is that much change in the pace of life: “I am not always on holiday contrary to what people may think, I am on holiday when I go somewhere. Not all our friends are retired, we still travel during school holidays”.

However, Boomers are aware they are “first in line” as they see their parents ageing and they choose to put the idea aside taking care of themselves, exercising, eating well and fueling social ties. Still, it is a pivotal moment that needs to be prepared.

 

What can brands do?
5 key learnings

 

#1 Engage the person behind the Boomer

The French startup Gang de grand-mères enhances special skills and sustains them. The Portuguese collective “Arte Urbana” organizes intergenerational streetart initiations all around the world. Lifestyle is a better indicator than age. Oxo reinvents the design of all the kitchen utensils without addressing “seniors” specifically: more ergonomic and handy, they are also better for younger people and all those who look for comfort.

 

#2 Enrich experiences to guarantee independence and autonomy

Care is intergenerational. People will favor healthy and less-processed products also to anticipate and prevent diseases or the loss of autonomy but eating remains a pleasure for 61% of French Boomers. The idea is to adjust to one’s target’s consumption habits and desires. That is what Le Vertueux does: fiber-enriched bread sold in bakeries not to change the consumers’ habits. That is what Elli.Q also does favoring interaction over information and adapting the design to a target that will look for the volume button, contrary to Alexa (Amazon). Never forget: these habits and wishes tremendously vary depending on cultures.

 

#3 Rethink the offers

Retirement can mean a return to the heart of the action, in smaller homes in the city center like those offered by Quadra or a will to share one’s daily life in co-living with Ollie. Stoop has focused on a greater flexibility of leases to allow a shorter-term commitment. Concert’o, in Bordeaux rethinks what living together means with an intergenerational residency based on a shared passion. As for relationships, Meetic with Disons Demain adapt their offer to the expectations of people over the age of 60 with another semantics, more French, and focusing more on a search for connection than for a soul mate. One shared motto: freedom, flexibility, mixity!

 

#4 Change representations

Women’s and men’s representations regarding ageing, their bodies, their sexualities and the others is changing in Netflix shows like “Grace and Frankie” starring Jane Fonda or “The Kominsky Method” starring Michael Douglas. Taboos are shattered and Boomers are not relegated at the side of the story in grandparents parts: they are the protagonists. Eovi MCD chooses “Françoise” as an ambassador in small videos to move on from stereotypes. Generally speaking, the reference to age still prevails even if the codes tend to change. Ageing also means having more experience, confidence and boldness. Thus “Allure Magazine” announced in 2017 that the phrase “anti-ageing” would no longer be used in the hope to change the way ageing is considered and make it a positive value. It is necessary to rethink who the ambassadors are and go beyond age to focus on experience. If Lesley Crawford and Ignacio Quiles are influencers, it is mostly because they have a lot to share.

 

#5 Redefine the codes

Although it was not “made for them”, the Renault Twingo is the Boomers’ favorite car: the universal value proposition and the timeless codes resonate with the expectations of all those who live in cities, drive short distances and look for practicality.

 The Boomers have experienced the Punk movement, they were on the streets in May 68, they have listened to Patti Smith and the Rolling Stones: one should not make the mistake to treat them as sweet grannies and grandads. Stereotypes are the easy way. It is necessary to move away from classic “targets” to focus on the consumers’ behavior profiles, lifestyles, habits, projects and desires. Far from being an opportunity for the health sector only, the Boomers have bright days ahead. Afterall, it is not about how old you get, it is about how you get old 😉

 

Expert’s opinion following the conference #LiveLonger drawn up by Kim Hartmann, senior strategic planner, co-written by Juliette Raynaud, communication advisor

 

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If you want to know more about the conference, discover the article "A look back at the #LiveLonger! conférence " ! 

 

  1. Source : McKinsey, 2016
  2. Source : UN World population prospect
  3. Source : Generation Bold, JWC
  4. Source : Interview 10 personnes urbaines à la retraite depuis au moins 2 ans.