Senior, so are you!

Or why it is urgent to change opinion on seniors or there is a risk of missing silver economy promises.

 

A senior is a person who asked nothing and who is prejudiced by stereotypes he doesn’t recognize himself into. He often suffers in silence from a different opinion that the collectivity has on him indicating this way the burden he is for the society and the traced path of his ending days. Ask a fresh middle-aged what’s his opinion about targeted spam he received from a company of hearing devices or funeral solutions. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the new concerned reject massively the “senior” designation, and for good reason, they are not seniors but their parents, who are still alive, are.

20 years ago, a very relational speech with a touch of compassion and a “senior” label written in bold was enough to convince them to become client. Today, even this speech is at least without effect or worse, totally rejected. Still, putting a surfboard under the arm of a senior having big promises is not convincing.

What has changed? Who are these new seniors and how to address them to hope being considered?

 

France gets old, long live the silver economy!

In 2020, we estimate that 25% of French population will be more than 50 years old… a ratio that will get to 50% in 2030. Today, a baby is born every 42 seconds and a senior every 37 seconds.

If this evolution of the age pyramid generates a lot of questions concerning the sustainability to our social model; it leads to interesting perspectives for companies who will be ready to give up the under-50 housewives for the benefit of their elders. A future full of promises for the companies that will able to integrate expectations and behaviors specifications of new “silvers” without reinforcing the prejudices about senior.

 

The new silvers 

Talking about senior who are more than 50 years old, as we tend to do it today, it is about mixing persons who are working for quite a time and persons who retired years ago, dynamic persons who are thinking about a life project and persons who became independent.

In addition to the age, the activity degree and life events, it is necessary to take into account the generational factor. Because the French population aging is supported by an important sociological evolution: the new seniors are baby-boomers, in better health, with more financial means and new expectations concerning their life comfort.

And this is precisely this population that will be the driver of the silver economy and even larger than the economy when we know that they will soon represent the half of the French population and that they will own more than 60% of estate and will generate 50% of the consumption.

If they get old, are more preoccupied about their health, they are not being older anyway. Their lifestyles are closer to a young person than a 50-year-old. Apartment-sharing between seniors, go back to school, interest for new technologies, sportive and cultural activities… they are willing to stay as active as possible to differ from “old people”. Old people who are born in 1945 whose values, expectations and behaviors are totally different from theirs.

These “young” seniors, we can still count on them. In the professional life for example: 61% are actives and think about pursuing their careers, 25% have subscribed to an entrepreneurial procedure. 

We can still count on them to seduce: they represent 22% of weddings last year, the meeting websites that are dedicated to them have audiences that can intimidate generalist competitors and 25% among them admit they still have a weekly sexual life.

We can still count on them to consume. Yet, they are more demanding: they don’t like advertisement, wait for tangible proofs and check the source of their purchases. It is also them who are more willing to consume services and pay the price to have quality, aware that what is cheaper on the moment is finally expensive in the long term. High-value consumers who are not only loyal but also good ambassadors if we treat them properly. 

So, if we can count on them in order to make them enjoy the most of their new lives, as we can count on them to contribute to the growth of our country, how to establish the bases of a new relationship that would benefit to both parties? A new relationship that will start by a new opinion… 

 

A new opinion

It is commonly thought that becoming a senior is irreversible; enter the final chapter of his life. This is what brings brand to treat them like children with compassion and fatalism excluding more and more those who are interested.

And what if it were the contrary? And what if it were a beginning, as AARP (American Association of Retired People) said in the 70s; life before 50 years old being just a warm-up? It may appear as an advertisement idea but it tends to be proven by studies, the last one lead by the Office of National Statistics of Great-Britain stating that the maximum of happiness level is between 65 and 69 years old.

Wouldn’t it be time to stop stigmatizing seniors and chose to glorify instead this generation that we already qualify as “power age” in the US? Wouldn’t it be time to change opinion and posture for a better understanding of their expectations specifications, more consideration, respect and finally more utility to their life projects?

Change opinion and posture can be virtuous and rewarding for a brand. When your name is Viagra for example, would it be better to be perceived as drugs for men soon-to-be impotent or as men partner that live intensely the best moment of their lives?

Gilles Folin

Senior Partner / WNP Consulting

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