Next, a brief overview of some of the features common to the broad age group of seniors.
1. Seniors are not as aware of the choices available in the market as younger people are, except with regard to health products. Seals of quality, ingredient lists in fine print, the advantages and particular features of competing products – older people have a poorer understanding of such details than younger ones, at least when it comes to foodstuff.
2. Seniors take longer to process information, their pace is lower than young people’s. However, at least up to their 80th year, people’s ability to process information remains unchanged. Furthermore, seniors desire more information, because they have time to read it.
3. Seniors are more cautious about purchase-related decisions<, because they are more afraid of making a mistake and choosing a wrong product. 4. Dependence and reliance on the mass media increases with age. However, television and radio become the main sources of information, pushing newspapers and magazines to the background.
5. When targeting an ad to the seniors, their impaired hearing and eyesight should be taken into account. This affects the effectiveness of print ads the most, but also that of radio and TV commercials.
6. Seniors tend to be more subjective and judgmental than young people. Several studies have shown that younger and older adults have different ways of processing information when it comes to emotions. Seniors rate ads more subjectively and emotionally, on the basis of pre-existing value judgments and earlier experience. Young people, on the other hand, are more objective appraisers, relying more on detailed and fact-based information processing. This difference in the way information is processed influences quite a few things, including the type and amount of the information remembered. When asking seniors in a survey to name any recent advertisements they can remember, they name just a few – those that created some emotion in them.
7. Seniors know how to avoid negative emotions. On the one hand, young and old people’s different way of processing information is attributed to the aging cognitive system and impaired memory of the latter. On the other hand, seniors emphasize personal values and experience more than younger people, and thanks to their maturity are able to behave in a manner that ensures as many positive emotions as possible. They can draw clear connections for themselves between the occurrence of an event and the emotion it leads to. That way, they are able to avoid negative emotions and situations which give rise to them even before they occur. Advertising messages that involve negative emotions tend to be avoided and more easily forgotten.
8. The attitude of the seniors is influenced by the sense that time is limited. Seniors know that the time that is left to them is limited. As a result, older people are more likely to connect to processes that involve as little negative emotion as possible. They have oriented their existence and activities to the present moment, trying to find satisfaction in everything they can experience and enjoy right now.
9. In general, seniors remember less of the content of the ad than younger consumers do, except when the content is specifically made “older consumer friendly”.
10. Seniors remember and favor an emotional advertising message better than a rational one. Studies have shown that as people get older, their wish to receive emotional information instead of fact-based one grows. As mentioned before: unlike young people, seniors are not concerned with planning a long-term future and obtaining new information for that purpose. New acquaintances, as contacts potentially useful in the future, are also of little importance in their lives. In their social interaction, older adults are more committed to intimacy and their loved ones, communication with whom is known to be rewarding. Hence – young people tend to prefer rational reasons for buying a product, whereas older ones favor messages that evoke positive emotions and mental images.
11. Seniors prefer and have a better memory of ads that are presented as a way of avoiding negative emotions. This certainly doesn’t mean that negative emotional messages that generate anger, fear or sadness in the receiver of the advertisement would be suited to seniors. On the contrary, seniors favor ads that show them how to avoid experiencing such negative emotions.
12. Dividing seniors into different groups on the basis of chronological age is not very useful for determining differences in behavior and values. Instead, rely on perceived age. Perceived age is related to the daily way of life of the seniors and provides hints as to the manner they should be approached in marketing.
13. There is no reason to be afraid of them or consider them a particularly vulnerable target group. Is it OK to frighten a granny? It has been found that it is quite alright – just as with young people. If the ad has been fittingly designed and tested, the results are not only beneficial to the seniors and the advertiser, but the process of watching the ad itself provides positive energy to the viewer.
Although the listed characteristics apply to the senior age group as a whole, it is important to keep in mind that this target group is heterogeneous and constantly evolving. Attitudes, values and habits depend on the particular generation that has currently reached that age.