Back in July, Mark Dolliver wrote this terrifically insightful article in Adweek regarding marketing to today’s age 65+ consumer. [Sorry, I’m just catching up to this, thanks to a mention by the Boomer Project.]

Dolliver refers to this group as the Silent Generation (born 1925-42), sandwiched between a group whose life-shaping — and well-told story — involves the Depression, and the Boomers, who have never lacked a voice in pop culture (and all matters!).

If your fundraising still targets age 65+ donors in a big way (whose doesn’t?), you’ll benefit from reading Dolliver’s piece.

Some takeaways:

  • HUGELY important to (let’s call them) Seniors is a sense of connectedness. And this reaches well beyond the individual’s immediate family.
  • Seniors are a generation of readers. Dolliver cites a Pew study indicating that 81% of 65-74s and 86% of those 75-plus said they’d read a book, magazine or newspaper within the 24 hours before being queried. "But," he says, "this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re eager to plow through long-copy advertising … The fact that older people have more free time doesn’t mean they’ve ceased to value their time."

    One marketer he cites says: "Yes, they’ll read more, but an image is extremely important with this group. In direct mail, if you combine an image with a narrative that uses emotional themes, it can be very effective" — unlike, say, an ad that reads "as if it were written by an engineer."

  • Seniors don’t like being rushed or pressed (e.g., "Last chance to act!"), but highly value personal testimonials.
  • And Seniors place very high value on their "grandparenting" role. Says Dolliver: "… few grandparents are predisposed to react negatively when marketers depict and address them in this role. ‘Grandparenting’ is an almost universally accepted — and even enthusiastically accepted — theme for everyone from age 50 on."

Lots of food for thought in this piece. Mark Dolliver, you deserve a raise!


This article was posted in: Communications, Demographics, Direct mail, Planned giving / legacy marketing.
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