Marketing Information

Why Target the Matures


The "Matures" are the generations that came along between 1909 and 1945. Born to and tempered by economic uncertainty, older Matures were nurtured by the New Deal and served in the mightiest armed force fielded by any nation. The Matures' core values are a roll call of traditional American culture: Honor; optimism, selflessness, dedication to a higher purpose (self-sacrifice equals virtue).

Having made the World safe for democracy, the men and women whom we now refer to as the "Matures" attended college on the G.I. Bill, opened businesses, raised families?and saw the Marshall Plan rebuild Europe from the ground up (many as participants!).

Shared Experiences -- Seeing is Believing

As a result of these shared experiences, Matures tend to believe in the ability of institutions and people with expertise and the will to achieve to solve problems and get things done. Still, like other people, the Matures want options and need to know the long-term benefits of the things they buy and buy into. While they may have a soft spot for their own grandkids, at heart these people are unemotional pragmatists who distrust marketing hype, resist canned sales tactics and insist on doing business with trusted professionals with proven track records, not just anyone claiming to be an "expert."

Mature Market Segments

The Matures tend to think and associate with people many years younger than themselves. With that in mind, it is worthwhile to understand the common characteristics associated with the various age-based market segments that make up this large generational cohort and be prepared to help prospects address age-specific subjects:

? Age 50 - 64: The 33 million pre-retirees between ages 50 to 64 control assets worth approximately $575 billion and have the highest disposable income of any age group. This age group has a self-image of a much younger generation, is concerned with appearance, fitness, nutrition and self-fulfillment. They are good prospects for exercise equipment, cosmetics, luxury cars, financial services, investment advice and travel. While there are more or less equal numbers of men and women in this age group, many are new grandparents and spend a lot of money on their grandchildren.

Also among this group are members of the "Sandwich Generation." That is, younger Matures and older Boomers who may still have children in college and are in the midst of planning for retirement, but who also find themselves having to provide a certain amount of financial support and make important decisions for their own parents. To keep themselves marketable some people in this situation are going back to school looking for additional income opportunities through adult education (in effect, using what they learn at school tonight on the job tomorrow).

? Age 65 - 74: The 17 million people in this market segment control assets worth approximately $195 billion. Largely, but not entirely, retired now, most have a great deal of free time; yet they are still very active and are concerned about diet and health, and are very sensitive about being excluded from society.

They tend to choose lighter foods, use prescription medications, and buy services that help them accomplish daily chores. Because most women still outlive most men, there is an increase in the number of female-headed households in this group. Many have substantial sums of money in cash equivalents. They are good prospects for travel services, restaurants and leisure activities, as well as estate planning and, increasingly, long-term care products.

? Age 74 - 84: People in the 75-to-84 age group have been classified as the "young old"--though you'll find that many women prefer 'of a certain age,' especially if you don't want a hatbox in the face, cautions the New York Times.

The 9 million people in this age bracket represent assets worth close to $100 billion. Concerned with the possibility of serious illness, their priority is health care and maintaining their independence despite greater difficulty with routine tasks. There are many more women than men in this group; they spend 25% of their incomes on health services, and tend to invest heavily in cash equivalents, saving their money instead of spending it.

? Over 85: People over 85 are now the fastest-growing segment of the Mature market in percentage of growth. According to the New York Times, "The number of Americans who are 85 or older is rising rapidly: The total jumped 51 percent from 1980 to 1996, and is expected to climb an additional 32 percent by 2005. Genontologists, not to mention marketers, already call this age group the 'oldest old'-an unfortunate moniker that sounds only slightly better than 'prime of geezerdom.'"

Thirty years ago, many in this market segment were among those who moved into first-generation retirement communities in Florida, Arizona and other Sun-Belt states, attracted by the offer of an "active retirement lifestyle," replete with year-round golf, swimming pools, bridge at the clubhouse. More recently, these establishments have been busily reinventing themselves to accommodate the growing number of now-elderly retirees, doing everything from making home health care available to installing elevators in no-longer accessible two-story buildings, and turning up the lights in the bingo hall. Many offer services to residents who are taking the next inevitable steps to full-time nursing home care.

Many older Matures are caring for friends and family on their own through programs in churches and temples. "Forty million Americans are 60 and older. 'Senior Companion' programs, and others like it, both formal and informal, were formed to improve the lives of the elderly?The relationships they foster may even allow seniors to stay in their own homes longer, which is better for them and less expensive for everybody?Seniors who help others get as much out of it as those they help." (Source: "Companions in Caring," by Karen Long, Tampa Tribune).

The adult children of Matures may understand their parents' need for financial security planning, but may be reluctant to urge action for fear of coming across as a bit too eager about their own inheritances, suggests Elaine Floyd, CFP of Bellingham, Washington, author of J.K. Lasser's Investor's Tax Guide. It might help to have friends their parents' age who have already done their own planning bring the subject up and help them see the light.

If it works, why not?

Want More? Send questions and comments to w.willard3@knology.net.

Bill Willard, President of Willard Associates, has over 30-years experience providing high-impact written communications to small-business owners and independent professionals. A Phi Beta Kappa and former managing editor, he lives in Clearwater, FL. - w.willard3@knology.net


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