How can Businesses best position themselves to market to an aging population?
Over the summer, I participated on a panel at the Celebrating Seniors Coalition. As part of the panel, we were asked several questions relating to the impact of the increasing senior population on business. As a follow-up to that panel, I have been taking deeper looks at the questions we were asked on the panel. As discussed in my last three articles, my goal is to provide a dialogue related to the impact of aging on business through a series of blog posts.
For this blog, I am addressing the following question: As leaders in the fields of business and aging, what advice do you have for business owners about how to best prepare for and capitalize on the promise of longevity?
There are endless answers to this question, but the simple answer, which I believe is key to any successful business, is to adjust to your customer. You must always be fluid, change with the times and stay current. Having a clear-cut business strategy can keep your business flexible and able to adapt to changing marketplaces. The most successful companies have business models that they use as their guiding principles.
There are many real-life examples of strong business models leading companies to succeed in a changing marketplace. The movie The Founder tells the story of the early days of McDonalds; when enterprising salesman Ray Kroc changed the small hamburger stand owned by the McDonald brothers into an empire by meeting the needs of their customers. In the best-selling motivational business book, Who Moved My Cheese?, a fable that teaches us the importance of change, innovation and adapting.
Businesses similarly must adjust to the changes in the marketplace when marketing to seniors or to Baby Boomers, who are on the cusp of or already have joined the “senior” category.
Many businesses that service seniors are co-opting current trends businesses that may have originally targeted non-senior audiences and adapting them to the senior market, including:
- Food businesses (stores, restaurants, on-line services) are creating ways to bring prepared food directly into the home of seniors. Prepared meal delivery relieves the burden placed on seniors by transportation issues, the need to get dressed up, having to tip and more.
- Drug stores are offering delivery services, drive-thrus and the pick-up of prescriptions stress-free.
- Technology is being made more accessible for seniors through touch or voice-activated technology. Many refer to this as the ‘Alexa’ age, in reference to the popular Amazon product that operates on voice command. The TV show ‘Saturday Night Live’ had an Echo Silver skit partnering Amazon with AARP (view here).
- Customer loyalty plans are being developed. Discounts are being offered for both new and returning customers.
- Different price points are being offered for different groups of consumers. The hotel chain, Marriott, is a perfect example because they offer different hotel brands to meet the needs of a wide range of customers.
- Speaking of hotels, some hotels chains are offering robotic butlers to help customers with mobility restrictions manage their rooms.
- Companies are offering flexibility for employees based on their needs for a home-work balance.
The list could go on and on, but one thing we know for sure, with change there is opportunity. Certain things will disappear and new products and services will take their place.
The key is to prepare for these changes so you and your business can capitalize on the promise of longevity.
For more information on preparing your company for changes in the aging and senior industry, feel free to contact Focus on Aging.