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Aging in place, living well, thriving at home, welderly, zoomers -- isn't obfuscation great?
Medicine turned into healthcare, doctors became providers, small coffee cups became tall, exercise became fitness, recycling became a sustainability tactic. So it has come to pass that politically correct eventually becomes...correct. And everything else, therefore becomes incorrect, inappropriate, or even offensive.
When we make words obsolete, solutions can disappear. We are at the cusp of this transition into political incorrectness with the word 'aging', as in products for aging people, aging consumers, aging baby boomers. We apparently banished the word 'elderly' last year. This year, assisted living 'facilities' (aka ALFs) are now 'assisted living communities' (ALCs?). And on the home page of AARP, you will not see the word 'aging' -- because 50+, the entry age for AARP members, is of course filled with people who don't believe that that is us -- it must be them.
Stop retiring language. I have heard this issue raised: How can we market our product that helps people as they age or as their parents age? "No one wants to hear that they are aging, so prospective customers won't see themselves in this market". Translate that: seniors won't buy if the product or service in any way implies that they are frail or in need. Their adult children might, because it's their parents who are aging, not them. Because of our lengthening life expectancy, AARP's membership spans as many as 5 decades -- all with different needs. This is a marketing nightmare -- but they are surely up to it. The secret...
Think about unmet needs and fill them. I think marketers need to focus more on the problem and solution, less time on worrying about reinventing language to hide some imagined (or focus-group described) unpleasantness. If individuals have a problem that is associated with, though not caused by, aging along the 5-decade continuum, then the product or service you offer can solve that problem for them.
- Clearly describe the unmet need -- then describe those who have it. Your role is to find them or let them find you by specifically matching the terminology that describes what it is that you do -- through rich content on your website.
- Clarify your target customer persona. Is your target a 45-year-old woman with two children whose mother lives with her? Is it an 82-year-old woman living alone? This is best done through quantifiable surveys -- either yours or those that are published (see Trends).
- Do identify what they like to do and what other sites and locations they might also be viewing -- and how you can feature content from other sites to enrich your site.
- Do not describe or build a product or service based on yourself, your experience, or that of your grandmother. While this can be an inspiration for market entry, viewing your market as matching that person's experience can mislead -- and worse, when founders have differing life experiences, their perceived target customers and capabilities may be different and difficult to reconcile.