The Retirement Community Option Is Alive And Well

Most industry experts agree that Boomers will retire in a way that looks vastly different from previous generations -- if they choose to retire at all.

But for those who do choose the traditional retirement route, the continuing care retirement community (or CCRC) remains a viable option, providing what's called the "continuum of care" from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care on a single campus or within a string of affiliated campuses.

One of the common mantras we mature marketers find ourselves using when working with retirement communities is "too much of the same." We see ads that look like competitors' ads with stock photography and heartwarming messages. We hear about the same amenities being offered, and we notice that some campuses look identical to others.

While some may argue the Boomer cohort is younger than the CCRC resident, Boomers already command heavy influence as the adult children of prospective residents. The CCRCs who begin to recognize and tailor their marketing to them will be best poised to succeed as Boomers consider where to spend their senior years.

When it comes to media, an integrated approach is ideal. It's best to engage with a targeted audience through multiple touchpoints (traditional advertising, public relations, digital) based on which media they may be using at any given moment.

Marketers should remember the following when targeting the Boomer audience on retirement living:

  • Embrace technology. Boomers are outpacing younger cohorts when it comes to adopting new technologies and online media, so don't discount digital advertising, social media and mobile content. And while digital isn't always the answer, these media provide new, dynamic ways to deliver targeted, highly trackable brand messaging.
  • Target the entire demographic, but don't treat it as a stereotypical entity. Not all Boomers can identify with hippies or Woodstock, so concentrate on where they may be heading, not where they've been.
  • Emphasize "benefits over features" and "information over entertainment." Boomers like to be informed and engaged in a creative way before making a decision.
  • Have some empathy. Boomers took a big economic hit and are having to rethink or even put off retirement, so stay abreast of the trends affecting this audience.
  • Have a sense of humor.
  • Stage, not Age. Boomers lives have more moving parts than in previous generations. For example, people are juggling parenthood while taking care of their own parents, so remember that when developing a voice for your brand.
  • Finally, one of the best ways to connect creatively with the mature market is to "live it." Although it sounds a bit "method," my being a Boomer is "street cred."

CCRCs are now re-thinking the entire model of the community to attract an audience that won't be content with many of the services and amenities currently being offered. Programs, activities, wellness programs, dining options, home care services and even community designs are being challenged. Active lifestyle is the new catch phrase. At the extreme, some are even planning neighborhoods built around themes or common resident interests, commune- type living, and intergenerational designs that will allow families to live together.

The definition of retirement is changing, and it's exciting to find communities pushing the limits. Although some idealistic retirement communities have tried and failed, the hope is that the new crop of forward-thinkers can avoid that fate through careful planning, strong leadership and focused, targeted marketing.

Tags: baby boomers
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2 comments about "The Retirement Community Option Is Alive And Well ".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , May 26, 2011 at 1:51 p.m.

    The audience is not just those who are considering retirement communities. The largest audience are those who are considering the need for retirement communities for their parents. This audience is rather specific, too. Most people cannot touch the cost of these places. For assistant living, it must be proven that one has the financial ability to pay for it before admittance. Think in terms of $3500+ per month average. For independent living, these are people who are not looking for a mortgage.

  2. Arthur Koff from RetiredBrains.com , May 27, 2011 at 7:44 a.m.

    Our audience, at RetiredBrains.com, is over 50% boomers and we have found that editorial style "informational" advertising targeting this demographic works much better than banners and tiles.

    Boomers and older Americans seem to be looking for information first and where to purchase a product or service second.