Aging baby boomers may fuel the senior market's growth, but they're not the only segment out there. "Generational marketing recognizes that every individual is shaped by the history he or she lived through," says Ann Fishman, president of Generational Targeted Marketing, a New Orleans marketing firm that focuses on generational characteristics, and former fellow for the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. That means there are three distinct groups of seniors you should market to:
GI Generation, 1900-1924 (ages 77-100). Growing up in WWI and the Depression, they'll always be financially conservative. They weren't able to be "kids," and now make up for it with travel, painting and other leisurely activities. They respond to customer service as well as prepackaged travel and "senior" promotions and accommodations (easy-to-enter showers, early-bird meal deals, etc.)
Silent Generation, 1925-1942 (ages 59-76). A generation of helpers involved in raising their grandchildren, they have money and may feel life is passing them by, so they're willing to indulge in soft adventure and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Once people return to the airlines, "grandtravel" (grandparents and grandchildren traveling sans busy parents) may be hot. Meanwhile, expect Internet communication with grandchildren to grow.
"Me" Generation, 1943-1960 (ages 41-58). Boomers are trying to prolong their youth, so speak to them of life stages rather than aging. Use testimonials with them, because living through Vietnam and Watergate made them distrustful of experts. Any service you can provide that makes their lives easier is likely to be popular because boomers are still busy and may be caring for ailing parents.
- Generational Targeted Marketing