Marketing to Seniors: 7 Keys to Capturing a Senior's Heart

September 5, 2023


After a decade of advertising to older adults, CIRCA 46 has settled on seven keys to capturing a senior’s heart. Take a look at these keys and consider how your marketing messages are measuring up!

Key #1: Lead with the Right; Follow with the Left.

As we age, we become less rational and more intuitive, which means it is more important how a product or service makes a senior feel than what features and benefits it offers. Hence, advertising will be more effective when it leads with right-brain messaging that evokes emotion first and then supports that right-brain messaging with left-brain logic and details.

Key #2: Don’t Hard-sell; Just Give Them the Facts.

Don’t tell seniors how to think. Give them the numbers and the evidence, then let them decide for themselves. Years of buying experience have equipped seniors with knowledge about what they should consider and evaluate in order to make intelligent purchase decisions.

Key #3: Take Advantage of Their Life Experience.

As suggested in Key #2 above, seniors enjoy the benefit of drawing from an extensive base of experience. They have made similar purchase decisions in the past and have experienced the outcomes from those decisions. You can even make the case that seniors have simply had more practice making purchase decisions! Consequently, they tend to consider less information, eliminate possibilities and choices more quickly, and typically spend less time analyzing information before making a purchase.

Key #4: Don’t Use Peer Pressure.

Advertising that focuses on social status benefits is likely to fall flat, because seniors are less affected by peer pressure. They no longer feel the need to “keep up with the Joneses,” so they are not out to impress others. Because they are generally satisfied with themselves and their position in society, they tend to gravitate toward greater practicality in their buying decisions rather than what other people might think.

Key #5: Make It Clean. Make It Simple.

Because information processing slows as we age, stay away from long sentences, long copy, and unnecessary information. Keep your copy concise (less is more), sequential (easy to follow) and uncluttered (eliminating potential distractions). In short, adhere to the K.I.S.S. rule: “Keep it simple, stupid…”

Key #6: Focus on Experiences; Not Accumulating “Things.”

Most seniors are past the “accumulation stage” of life. They are more likely to be divesting themselves of much of the acquisitions they had collected over the past half century. Instead of adding more “stuff,” they usually respond more favorably to products and services that facilitate desired experiences. They are more likely to want:

  • Opportunities to learn
  • New things to see
  • Products and services that encourage socialization with others
  • Anything that will enhance their overall well-being.

Key #7: Seniors Think Young

Frank Luntz, in his book What Americans Really Want points out that people over seventy feel thirteen years younger than their chronological age – and think they look it, too. (He also noted that women are more realistic about this than men.) Furthermore, seniors who remain relatively unimpaired physically after 50, 60, or 70 are less likely to consider themselves “old” when compared to their peers, according to the book, Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population.

Avoid stereotyping when addressing older adults. Don’t talk down to them – they’re not stupid, just older. And by all means, don’t assault their infirmities in your advertising – they really hate that! Ultimately, seniors want to thrive. Thriving may look different to each senior, but all will agree that it’s better than being “needy.” So don’t present them as needy in your advertising!

By applying these keys, you can deliver marketing messages that will resonate with the seniors you want to target. Show how your product or service can help them thrive and you will capture their hearts!