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BIG BUCKS! – Demographics of the Over 50 Crowd

How to Use Customer Demographics to Save Your Marketing $$

customer demographics - age 50A couple of blog posts ago I wrote about how you can save money on your marketing by aiming your ads directly toward your best clients — using your customer demographics to target your marketing where it will do you the most good. 

I really like the idea of making up a persona (an imaginary person who fits your customer demographics exactly), but what if you can’t narrow your “best customer” down to one particular persona?

Maybe you could narrow down your marketing target to one particular age group?

We’ll talk about all 6 main age groups, but this post got so long that I’ll cover the 50+ age groups here and the rest in the next post. Don’t be upset if you don’t fit exactly into the mold (or maybe you do and you’re in denial). Anyway, knowing more about these groups will help you to think about how to market to the group where you’ll make the most money. Also, please note that I’m not talking about the entire group — I’m talking about the ones that have money that they can spend on your products and services.

The Over-50’s are HUGE spenders. Here are the facts:

  • There are 90 million people over 50 in the U.S – almost 40% of the population, but they control 77% of the wealth.
  • They spend almost $2 trillion on goods and services each year, which is over 40% of total consumer spending.
  • Income per capita is 26% higher than the national average.

And here’s how the age groups stack up:

Census Customer Demographics

THE SENIORS – 1925-1938, Age 75 and up
Also known as “The Greatest Generation”

seniors customer demographics

75 and up sounds seriously old, but they’re actually quite amazing. Health is their biggest concern and pretty much defines their lifestyle. If they are healthy, they’re still traveling, or they’re moving to senior resort-like living for a more social atmosphere. They’re playing Pickle Ball, for heaven’s sake! If they are having health problems, they may be redesigning their lifestyles – downsizing or making changes to their home, or even moving to assisted living.

Their population as a generation was relatively small because the Great Depression of the 1930’s slowed birth rates. They lived through World War II and the Korean War and have survived several recessions as well, so they’re very careful about shopping and value.  They are living on fixed incomes – probably a pension, savings, and/or social security.

Marketing to Seniors

They take their time and do comparison shopping when making purchases, so forget “sales” and think relationships. Stop thinking about age and see them as people. Take the time to understand exactly what they want, then explain why your product excels. Act as an honest adviser.

If you try to “close the deal” with sales techniques – they can see right through you. You may think they’re old and slightly out of it, but they’re actually being patient and polite while you go through your sales antics. Go with honesty instead — it works, and you’ll get referrals from their friends because this group is loyal.

granny for customer demographicsComputers:  This group saw the rise of PC’s while they were still working, but they were retiring when the internet really got going (2000+), so they never really got involved with social media.  Don’t think that they’re not researching and shopping on line, though — according to the U.S. Census Bureau, people over the age of 65 spend more than $7 billion per year online. Most, but not all, use email, so email marketing is a possibility….if you can get their email addresses.

Traditional Methods:  The seniors have time to do  things like reading newspapers and magazines. Inserts in newspapers work, and community newspapers and newsletters get read cover to cover. Direct mail works – they have the time to actually open envelopes and read. Referrals and testimonials work well.  Brochures and printed materials will get read and used, especially if you use fonts and designs that are easy to see. (No black backgrounds.)

What They’re Buying:  Seniors like to spend money on their grandchildren. 75% of the over-50 crowd are grandparents and they buy 25 percent of all toys sold in America. They also spend on travel and vacations, and definitely on health-related products. They may be making changes to their houses for living-in-place or considering moving to senior resorts and assisted living.

THE LOST GENERATION – 1938 – 1946    Age 67-75 

ceo 70 customer demographicsThis group doesn’t quite fit in with the boomers or the seniors.  They are slightly older than the Boomers but don’t quite fit into the “old” category, and they are reshaping the way we view aging.  They were the first generation to have women enter the workplace, and they are forging new trails in leisure and hobby activities for the over 65 bunch.

The people in this group are highly socially conscious, and you may run into them heading charities and helping others.

Many work up to age 70, so they still could be working full time or fewer hours or could have just retired. They are living off pensions and investments. They generally have quite a bit of money to spend since their kids are out of college and off their payroll, but they’re looking for value since they are living on a fixed income for the first time in their lives.

Most of all, they feel YOUNG! They have energy, and they’re using it for new experiences and quality of life.

Marketing to the Lost Generation

senior customer demographics exercisingComputers:  When they started working they used electric typewriters, then graduated to the first PC’s (floppy disks and 64K!), and then saw the rise to where we are today. They were still working when social media began, and although they were slow to begin using Facebook, they are now flocking to it to communicate with family (which is probably why so many kids are going elsewhere — who wants to friend your GRANDMOTHER?)

They are slow adapters to new apps, but they eventually get there! They’re part of the fastest growing age group on line — part of the group that spends more than $7 BILLION per year online. Everyone uses email, and emails generally get read. You must have a web presence, and if you give good information, they may opt in.

Traditional Methods:  Newspaper ads and inserts work. Community newspapers work. Direct mail will work if it is a postcard – they may not open envelopes. They watch more television than younger generations, especially the news, and they may still watch all the way through a program instead of Tivoing out the commercials. They don’t want ads that emphasize “old.” They want ads that help them feel young.

What They’re Buying:  Cars! Seniors buy 41% of all new cars. They buy luxury travel, and they’re spending a LOT on services and products that keep them active and independent. They go to gyms or buy exercise equipment. They spend BIG on pets. They are taking up new hobbies and attending classes. They buy iPads and Kindles. They use financial planners.

They’re not big household goods shoppers since they already have everything they need and would rather be downsizing their household stuff. HOWEVER, just like the seniors, they are buying for their kids and grandkids.


BABY BOOMERS – born 1946 – 1959   Ages  54  to 67

boomer customer demographicsSomeone from this HUGE group of 76 million people is turning 65 about every 15 seconds.  AND they spend $400 BILLION MORE per year than any other generation!

This may sound like a “getting old” group to you, but they aren’t! They’re not aging like their parents did.  In fact, if you’re selling elder care and you thought you would sell your services to this group? You will, but not for them – for their parents. They don’t think of themselves as aging — they are in the prime of life.

They are active, hurried, and sometimes stressed by the demands on them as they reach the pinnacles of their careers. They may have kids in college or parents who are aging so they have financial pressures on them. They  will spend a great deal for services that save them time or trouble (like elder care for their parents).  To promote your services to this market, you need to promote convenience and efficient service.

kwanza customer demographicsThey are homeowners, although many are thinking about downsizing when they retire, which may be many years ahead. They may not have saved nearly enough money to retire, but they’re still spending on whatever they want or need now.

Marketing to Baby Boomers

Computers: They have used computers at work most of their lives and log in to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn regularly, but they aren’t early adapters (too busy) so there’s no need for you to hop onto every new social media channel that comes along. They shop on line bigtime. They are always in a hurry, so have a great website and make it easy to buy. They have multiple email accounts and respond to email and mobile marketing.

Traditional Methods:  The men in this group read the newspaper pretty faithfully. So do some of the women, but you can’t be sure to reach them unless you use neighborhood newspapers. You’re going to need to fall back on some of the traditional methods – networking, direct mail, doorhangers, specialized magazines, and referrals. They watch television but may cut out most of the commercials. They’re in a hurry, so keep your ads clear, but catchy. They respond to some “edge” but don’t go overboard.

What They Buy:  Everything! They’re spending on themselves and their kids (who are in college spending their money). They buy RV’s ( eight percent of all Americans 55 and older now own an RV). They buy phones and technology, clothes, cars, household goods, and lots of services: spa, gym, trainers, salon, maids, landscaping, and financial services. 

That’s it for the over 50’s — next week you’ll hear about Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen I.  Thanks for reading!

For a FREE Customer Demographics Survey Checklist, please subscribe on the right.
If you’re already subscribing, just email me at adhelperbiz@gmail.com and I’ll send you one asap.


For these and more facts, many thanks to the DMW Direct website.
Click here for a FREE whitepaper on how to market to seniors, provided by the Society of Certified Senior Advisers.

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