Key Multi-Industry Takeaways Around 50+ Personalization and Convenience
As you consider the opportunities and great potential of marketing to the affluent age 50+ market, borrow a few lessons from changes taking place in a category that’s had to overcome the stereotypes of frail and declining consumers — continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and assisted living facilities (ALFs).
By design, these businesses must acknowledge and plan for the changing needs of their residents as they age. But guess what? While traditionally the emphasis of these communities has been on health and safety (the “care” and “assisted” part of their names), the residents want to embrace a whole lotta livin’ before and during the stages of physical decline.
Overall, three characteristics of these residents are clarions to anyone targeting the 50+ market:
- They don’t want to be reminded they’re growing old. First of all, they don’t really like to be called “seniors” (although no one has yet come up with another moniker more universally understood). And they don’t want you to offer them services that further perpetuate stereotypes of bingo-playing, coupon-waving, 4:30-dinner-eating, tour-bus-jamming oldsters. Every product or service should include an active ingredient of dignity.
- They want variety and enriching life experiences. Because of the emphasis on healthcare, traditional CCRCs and ALFs could feel institutionalized — including inflexible schedules and limited offerings of services. Today’s residents know that stereotypes lump people together, when in reality the 50+ crowd embraces individualism and autonomy. Thus, they crave variety and personal choices for each day, with a hunger for experiences that enrich their lives physically, mentally and socially.
- They want easy access to fulfilling activities. It’s not that the vast majority of residents are unable to travel outside the community. It’s just that they want the convenience of having a variety of activities included inside or very near the community for easy access.
How do these attributes influence what your business offers to 50+ consumers? How can you appeal to this audience’s vibrant lifestyle with experiences that offer variety, personalization and convenience?
Lessons applied by CCRCs and ALFs are relevant to other industries: Meet consumers where they are.
While you digest the questions above, consider two important areas of focus that demonstrate how CCRCs and ALFs are adjusting to the “new model” of aging residents. And see how these examples may influence your thinking about improving your product or service toward the sensibilities of the 50+ demographic.
- Dining. According to a recent study by Senior Housing News, dining is the second most important aspect of the senior living experience. For respondents age 65+, 53 percent ranked a community’s dining offerings a four or five (on a scale of five for highest degree of importance) as a major consideration for moving in. And 74 percent say they expect at least two different dining venues on-site.
That’s why today’s CCRCs and ALFs are adding bistros, wine bars, pubs and/or coffee shops to complement their formal dining rooms. Gone are the days of cafeteria-style, institutionalized meals. Think much more “hospitality” and much less “hospital.” Communities are responding to residents’ wishes through menus filled with variety, healthy options and flexibility. They’re hiring celebrity chefs, pastry chefs and sommeliers. They’re focusing on memorable platings, pairings and presentations, as well as food availability 24/7. These communities recognize that mealtimes function as much more than meeting nutritional needs — food can be the centerpiece of socialization, entertainment and cherished memories.
- Planned activities. According to insightful reports, residents don’t need help living active lives, it’s the convenience of having a range of activities in one community. CCRCs and ALFs are moving far beyond the stereotypical “three B’s” (bingo, Bible and birthdays) of retirement communities to include beautiful walking/jogging trails, fishing ponds, fitness centers, game rooms (think billiards, not bingo), majestic swimming pools and more. Even for ALFs whose residents may have a greater presence of physical limitations, activities such as tai chi, yoga, college-level continuing education courses, cooking classes, Wii sports and performance arts clubs satisfy the desire to constantly learn, do and grow.
What do the adjustments in these vital areas of everyday experiences teach you about the needs and desires of the 50+ market? How can your brand, product or service make similar shifts in performance, delivery or positioning to connect with this audience in ways that will resonate?
If you’d like assistance in thinking such matters through with a marketing resource experienced in this space, start a discussion with RP Marketing. Simply contact Jon Marker, our business development manager at 419-241-2221 or [email protected].