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Self-delusional or optimistic – marketing to mindset

If asked, older adults are content with their lives. Is life good? So concludes a new poll: "USA TODAY partnered with United Healthcare and the National Council on Aging to gauge the attitudes of Americans age 60 and above. And, surprisingly, most are content with their finances, their health and where they live, and most are optimistic about the years to come: "75% of seniors in their 60s expect their quality of life to get better or stay the same over the next five to 10 years." But do those surveyed really have reason to be optimistic, or with a stated median net worth of $212,000, which includes the value of their house, is this self-delusion?  

Not everyone is so sure about their money. If you look further down the income level of responders with low and moderate incomes (< $30,000/year), nearly half of them are not confident that their income will be sufficient over the next 5-10 years. Okay, now let’s roll in the Census stats: 40% of the aged 60+ US population are at low-to-moderate incomes. And add in life expectancy for men – age 83, for women age 85.  Ignoring the Best Cities for Successful Aging (with money), maybe folks at the lower end of the income scale should move to one of the 10 Affordable Places to Retire.

So what does this mean for technology vendors who market to older adults? Internet use is up: 53% of the 65+ are online. But for those who want to reach the broadest audiences, value matters more than ever – what will people use their ever-more-limited funds to buy because it is important to them? Economically insecure young people will spend money they don’t have to acquire 'essentials' – turns out that cars are out and smart phones are in. For seniors, 70% of them already have cell phones and computers – what will cause them to move to smart phones and tablets? I am convinced that value will be found in must-have apps (and as a bi-product, the underpinning devices) that make their life better – helping them be more social, purchase more cost-effectively, hold onto and manage their health, and find appealing AND mitigating solutions for problems such as issues with vision, hearing, mobility, dexterity.

Most marketing messages for older adults (and their families) aren’t too inspiring.  For example – what does a PERS device do for an older adult – doesn't it help preserve independence -- versus HELP ME! after a fall – how optimistic and friendly is it to call them medical alarms? Why can’t they be integrated with software that helps with social connection and health info? How hard is it to switch to a different mindset that capitalizes on optimism -- tech for the buzzwords of optimal, successful, and healthy aging, or aging well and even (!!) thriving in the boomer-senior years – why not move up the optimism curve? Did you know there are stylish walkers? And fashionable canes? Extra cool hearing aids? Vendors who want to reach an older audience need to switch from bland, boring, and patronizing (do you need help?) messaging to inspiring and optimistic...and helpful. And this means messaging to caregiver family members, who are truly in need of inspiration, not just an in-the-moment GET HELP NOW.

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