Society has been stuck in a stereotypical world that ignores innovation for seniors. Businesses spend so much time innovating products and creating marketing campaigns targeted towards millennials because they believe that millennials are the only group with wants, needs, and preferences. Someone ought to do some research - millennials are just graduating college and getting started in the real world and do not have a fraction of the purchasing power that seniors do.
In actuality, baby boomers and seniors are the wealthiest generation in history, and they control 70 percent of the market. Seniors are choosing more than ever to live and age at home. Seniors are living longer than ever due to an increase in knowledge of health coupled with technological advancements. Jenny Kee, a 71-year-old social media influencer, feels strongly that she will defy stereotypical aging perceptions. "We are not going to be little old ladies sitting in a nursing home with blue-rinsed hair...Or if we are going to be in a nursing home, we’ll be there with our marijuana, our health foods and our great sense of style.” Businesses are foolish to ignore the global aging trend and as a result, elders in America continue to see products that look like they have been invented in the 1960s.
And to make it even worse, businesses that are creating products for the seniors think that elderly want to see cheesy stock photos of attractive older couples walking down the beach. Research findings from Coniq state that “People 50+ spend 42% more on retail goods than any other age group, and 66% more than millennials." We as a society need to rethink the marketing and advertising generalizations around seniors, and begin to recognize the new aging trends.
The odds of coming across a clothing brand that is both trendy and practical for seniors is close to zero. As Lyn Slater states in the New York Times article, The Glamorous Grandmas of Instagram, “I’m not 20. I don’t want to be 20, but I’m really freaking cool.” J. Walter Thompson Intelligence ran a study about ‘elastic women’, whom are defined to be British women ages 53-72. According to the study, 86% of elastic women do not believe that style should be defined by age. The study continued, claiming “...Maybe they don’t want to dress like they did in their 20s, but elastic women still want to dress with style and feel good.”
It's a very common misconception that seniors are not present on social media, but that's not at all the case. According to an article from The Guardian, eMarketer reported that “There will be 6.4 million 55-year-old-plus regular Facebook users this year.” Seniors use social media platforms to remain connected with friends and family the same way that millennials do. The few that agree that seniors are present on Facebook are adamant that they are certainly not on Instagram. In reality, the baby boomer generation is massively engaged on all social media platforms. Dorrie Jacobsen, an 83-year-old former Playboy model, has over 33,000 Instagram followers. She successfully uses her following to promote healthy living and to defy society's skewed aging perception. Perhaps businesses are missing out on a massive opportunity. Marketing products to seniors using social media, specifically Facebook, may be more effective than we realize. According to UK government figures, “...the group ages 50 to 64 are the top spenders in retail, food…” and many more.
Society notoriously ignores seniors. Businesses have also long ignored seniors, but perhaps society and businesses alike are missing out. So why is our perception of seniors and aging so outdated?