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Why it’s difficult to sell to seniors

Why it’s difficult to sell to seniors

Much mattress advertising focuses on peak performers, families and young professionals. But there’s another market that is often neglected but has tremendous buying power: seniors who are renovating their homes, transforming them into their forever, aging-in-place homes. 

Here are tips for businesses seeking to reach seniors:

Communication Channels

Print isn’t dead — yet. While younger consumers may prefer social media and online advertising, seniors access their information through traditional channels, such as print media, radio and television. If you’re seeking to reach seniors, use a mix of communication channels that will actually reach them. 


The messaging used in marketing and advertising to seniors should focus on the benefits of the product or service rather than solely focusing on its features. It can be tempting to focus advertisements directed to seniors on cliches about ailing health, but there is much more variety within the demographic.

What is more unifying among them is the channels through which they receive messages. Thus, the key to reaching a larger senior audience will be to focus on the positive outcome, rather than the negative “need” for the product in the first place.

Seniors are interested in products that improve their quality of life, health and well-being, and messaging should reflect this. Messaging should be clear, concise and jargon-free. If you’re selling mattresses, center messaging around how it can help seniors sleep better at night and wake up feeling refreshed and energized in the morning, rather than emphasizing need for a specific product feature, like something that is intended to “fix” something negative (i.e.: a health issue).

Sometimes niching down and being ultra-targeted is a good idea, but if the goal is to target seniors and not solely “people with ailments,” this will alienate a portion of the senior population.


When it comes to marketing and advertising to seniors, imagery is key. The visual cues used in marketing and advertising should reflect the diversity of the senior population as well and avoid stereotypes or clichés. Images should also be clear and easy to understand, with a focus on the benefits of the product or service. Seniors often respond positively to images of intergenerational relationships and activities that promote socialization and connectedness.

See Also

It’s no secret that seniors have significant spending power. According to a recent study by the American Association of Retired Persons, seniors age 50 and older account for more than a quarter of all consumer spending in the United States and that figure is climbing.

And yet, despite this buying power, seniors are often overlooked by marketers and advertisers. Seniors are seen as a “difficult” target market because they are diverse, with different needs and preferences, and are resistant to marketing messages that don’t speak to them directly.

While the most significant differences in advertising to seniors versus younger populations is in the channels used to reach them and the imagery and messaging used, the tactic is foundationally the same: sell aspiration. Sell the up-leveled version of how the target consumer currently sees themselves. 

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