If you ask veteran marketers what they believe to be important factors in marketing to Boomers and seniors, you’ll get a litany of responses. One common answer you might find among them is, “Keep it simple.” From your ad campaigns to your marketing materials and the product itself, keeping the sell simple is great advice for marketing to an older demographic. Recently, I found this concept being put into practice when I was talking about cellphones with a Boomer friend.
He and I were discussing the Apple product seminar slated for Sept. 12. The world is abuzz with news of the 10th anniversary model of the iPhone. It’s sure to have a slew of new, hi-tech features. But, as we talked, it became clear that my friend wasn’t excited about a bezel-free screen, facial recognition security or myriad other features. Rather, he was interested in the product because of his familiarity with the brand. His impression is that, even with all of the added features, the devices have become simpler to use and are more appealing to him as a Boomer.
If you perform a search, asking, “Is the iPhone for old people?” you might be surprised at the results. There are dozens of articles on this subject, citing research that demonstrates that older people prefer the iPhone, the iOS operating system and Apple products in general. Apple has even embraced this idea, running commercials touting how the iPhone is perfect for dads.
The stereotype that the iPhone is for older individuals has entered the American zeitgeist and has taken hold. Where the iPhone was once the pinnacle of 20-something cool, it’s recently been supplanted by Samsung’s Galaxy line of phones. Just like Facebook, the iPhone became less cool when grandma got one. The social status message of the iPhone is changing precisely because Boomers and seniors are adopting the device due to its ease of use.
Therein lies the power of Apple, especially when marketing to Boomers. The brand has managed to create an integrated system of products that all seamlessly sync together, built on a similar philosophy. Plus, when a product fails, most users are within driving distance of a physical Apple store wherein they can get support. Once a customer has become part of the Apple family and converted his or her household devices to Apple, it’s pretty unlikely that he or she will switch.
Contrast this to Apple’s competitors, such as Samsung, HP, Dell and others. Their devices don’t integrate automatically, are built with different values in mind and provide little in-person support. Brand loyalty also isn’t a big factor in the PC/Android space. Users are willing to switch brands based on perceived value. It’s not uncommon for a user to have a Motorola Android phone, a Dell Windows laptop and a Samsung Android tablet that all look, feel and operate differently. It’s no wonder that Boomers prefer Apple products!
As marketers specializing in an older demographic, what can we learn from Apple and its ability to keep it simple? Remember: Apple didn’t go out of its way to cater to the Boomer market; rather, it created a product system that worked so well that Boomers were drawn to it. The designs are clean, simple and intuitive. When different devices are connected, they synchronize seamlessly, using the same icons and parlance across platforms. Simply put, when someone buys an Apple product, he or she knows it’s going to work — and if it doesn’t, there’s a customer service system to back it up.
These concepts are easily translated to various market segments catering to Boomers. Whether it’s cars, dining experiences or senior living, marketing materials should be simple and to the point. Remember to reinforce a single concept several times and be able to demonstrate how the product meets the needs of the Boomer market.
Obviously, Apple has a big marketing budget and a well-established brand. Everyone wants his or her products/services to be as recognizable and ubiquitous as an iPad. That may not be possible for every offering, but if you follow Apple’s example and keep your pitch simple and your product user-friendly, you’ll already be ahead of your competition.