Seniors—a Growing Demographic and Booming Opportunity

The senior demographic offers great potential to housing providers and recognizing the unique features of this customer base can help us to market effectively and provide an environment that meets their needs.

The baby boomer generation—76 million strong—is entering retirement and responding to changing life needs. Some will choose to remodel their homes for greater accessibility, but with the costs for a remodel ranging from $80,000 to $140,000 many will instead choose to downsize and look for new housing in the apartment market.

As seniors seek to balance rising housing costs with the constraints of a fixed income, the question for is, how do we identify a price point that avoids sticker shock?

Fitting for purpose
The economics of the senior housing dilemma will impact the conventional housing market as we property managers seek to fulfill the needs of our customers, which now includes seniors at a higher rate than ever before.

Part of our role will be to retrofit units for greater accessibility and comfort, and then maximize opportunities for targeting these to our target market. Rather than limiting the customer base, accessibility adjustments could widen the potential market by appealing to wider demographics, including families with children or customers with disabilities.

Marketing to Seniors
So how do we attract this population to our community? Remember your audience, and don’t approach your customers as “old.” Treat your customers as people rather than demographics; being condescending or patronizing toward your senior prospects will surely kill your sales, so avoid words like “senior,” “old,” or elderly. Today’s seniors don’t let their capability be decided by the number of candles on the cake.

When marketing to seniors, think of your target market and design your senior-focused print advertising to be easily read and understood. As we age, the way we perceive color and print changes. Some tips to increase your marketing effectiveness include avoiding fancy fonts, using fonts sized 11-point or higher and using color ads to draw attention.

Business is all about relationships, and as we age relationships become more important. Seniors often appreciate the personal touch, so be sure to remember that actively engaging with them is as important as what you are actually saying. It also helps to provide “evidence” of your character and professional integrity to gain trust. Compile testimonials to share, or create opportunities for prospects to socialize with current customers. Try to only promise what you are confident in delivering—it’s better to under promise and over deliver, than the opposite.

Sell with sensitivity
Be real, be direct and always ask for the sale. However, don’t use scare tactics because this is a major move for them. Our focus should not be to add to the fear or change, but to enforce the newfound independence they will have by moving to your community. Your job is to solve their problem and present your offer.

A common fear that seniors have is that of being taken advantage of. To ease this fear, try using guarantees to impart confidence. This might even be the time to employ refundable holds.

In it for the long-term
If you are unsure why you should work so hard to attract this demographic? Remember, your senior customers will be amongst your most loyal residents and will remain as long as their health permits. In addition, you will find that they do much to enhance their new community. The investment in time it takes to build these relationships will continue to build dividends long after your relationship has begun.