The Secret to Selling to Seniors

What do you know about marketing to the older generation? It might not be enough. Check this out:

• According to the last U.S. census, the fastest-growing market is people 50 years and older. Right now, that’s about 37 percent of the total U.S. population. By 2015, it should hit 45 percent.

• Nearly 30 percent of these people are on the Internet. Not to mention an incredible 80 percent of seniors in the top income bracket.

• How much money do these folks have? About 70 percent of all the disposable income in the U.S. Around $1.6 trillion. Overall, they have a combined household net worth of around $19 trillion.

• The over-50 crowd – just in the U.S. – spends about $7 billion per year online.

• They also buy 40 percent of all new cars, 80 percent of all new luxury cars, 74 percent of all prescription drugs, and 80 percent of all leisure travel. And this same crowd – close to 75 percent of them are grandparents – buys 25 percent of the toys sold in the U.S.

To lump together everyone in the “older generation” is to include every race… every economic, religious, and political background… every level of income… you name it. Almost every marketing niche in existence somehow overlaps with the post-50 set.

And it’s about to get even more diverse…

Between 2005 and 2030, the total market of consumers between the ages of 18 and 59 will grow only about 7 percent larger. Meanwhile, the market of people over 60 will grow 81 percent. That’s huge. Somewhere around 20.5 million more customers.

With all those folks going grey – with such diverse interests and needs – what to sell? Creams, lotions, pills, and wheelchairs?

Not hardly. In the 1930s, it made sense to think of 65 and up as the age of obsolescence. Not anymore. If there’s one clear trend it’s this: A whole new concept of what it means to be older has evolved.

By and large…

Today’s Older Generation Is Healthier

There’s lots of talk about how life expectancy is soaring. Hogwash. Science doesn’t expect anyone to live past 114 years. And that’s the way it’s been for a long time. What’s changed, though, is how well we’re living and how long we’re doing so.

Only about 5 percent of the older population lives in nursing homes, according to We’re shifting from acute to chronic ailments that may make life a little tougher, but don’t stop us from doing and accomplishing all kinds of great things, regardless of age. We’re also getting in shape and staying in shape.

And we’re discovering that bad health has more to do with bad habits than with heredity. And that diet and exercise can even hold off diseases we might be genetically susceptible to.

If you’re marketing to this crowd, you’d better throw in adventure travel, fitness products, vitamins, dignified fashions and sportswear – in general, a lot more “younger” products and sales pitches than anyone might have imagined 20 years ago.

Today’s Older Generation Wants To Learn

Age-related memory loss and brain function is way over-estimated. New research even suggests it has a lot more to do with how you expect to age rather than any actual mental or physiological changes.

More important, we’re all just a little more aware of learning opportunities today. And the opportunities are more accessible than ever before. That’s as true for the older population as it is for everyone else.

There’s a booming market for mail-order education, seminars, educational travel, and more. Heck, my own grandfather learned to speak French at 76 years old. That’s better than I’m doing at 39!

The Older Generation Wants To Work

In too many cases, economic pressures force some people to work longer than they want to.

That’s a problem.

But there’s also a huge segment of the older population that just wants to keep on working. Some never retire from their jobs, some volunteer, still others launch second careers. And that may help explain why products that teach new skills and let people launch home businesses can do so well.

The bottom line?

Check your assumptions about the senior market. They’re a lot younger than you might think.

[Ed. Note: Knowing your customer is one of the most important aspects of making a sale. Learn the ins and outs of finding a target market, attracting traffic to your site, making sales, and more from some of the best experts in the business (including copywriting expert John Forde) with a membership in ETR’s Internet Money Club. Learn the details here.

And to get John’s wisdom and insights into copywriting (and much more), sign up for his free e-letter, Copywriter’s Roundtable, at Or send an e-mail to Get a free report about 15 deadly copy mistakes and how to avoid them when you sign up today.]

John Forde's 15-year career as a top copywriter started as an understudy of Bill Bonner and Michael Masterson. Since then, John has written countless winning controls, has generated well over $30 million in sales, and has successfully launched dozens of products. He's also worked three years as a financial journalist and has written books on wealth building and health, as well as more than 250 articles on copywriting for his popular ezine, The Copywriter's Roundtable. John has taught copywriting in private seminars and conferences in Paris, London, Bonn, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Baltimore, and Warsaw. He currently lives and works from Paris, France.