At Foresight Factory for many years now we’ve been tracking a trend we call the Age-less society, a trend which challenges elderly stereotypes and looks at seniors who demand adventure, intimacy and experiences just like their younger counterparts. And this was a growing reality before the pandemic so rudely interrupted its trajectory. Of course, you all well know by now that Coronavirus had a real impact for many people. But what does this really mean for our ageing – and age-less – population?
Covid represents a major health crisis for senior consumers (vs. the more economic one felt by younger consumers). This health crisis could have long lasting implications for how people see and prepare for senior life. Brands hoping to engage the lucrative senior audience are now forced to think afresh about how they engage older audiences both now and post-pandemic.
One effect, of course, is that Covid has forced technology to the forefront of daily engagement and living, which is fine (and perhaps a blessing) if you are a millennial or a Gen Xer who enjoys the benefits of working from home. But what does this mean for a cohort of elderly consumers who are otherwise independent, but not fluent in digital technology? Who may not be aware of the nuances of the internet and the vast array of services on offer?
As a brand, how do you reach a population with a limited digital presence but who must remain under lockdown to avoid any health risks? The independent elderly are a set of consumers who, for maybe the first time, are learning to employ digital technology to achieve their daily and weekly tasks, to connect with their communities, to buy their groceries.
Even as some markets begin to ease lockdowns, COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the independent elderly as many continue to uphold strict personal boundaries as a means to preserve their health.
Here are 3 key things brands need to know about the Independent Elderly to best engage them during and after lockdown.
1. Their communities are important to them
- How can you help this group create frictionless (and very often presence-less) engagement with their peers and family and community? As this groups needs to continue to maintain its social distancing, brand initiatives that bring people together both now and after the pandemic will help to build loyalty. Over the past several months we have seen volunteers mobilizing to help vulnerable residents in their communities with tasks such as picking up supplies – as the pandemic wears on, can your brand offer help beyond these immediate relief efforts by finding ways to foster lasting human connections?
- And, as digital technology becomes increasingly important for communities and engagement in the pandemic era, you may need to widen your target audience to include the children of this group, who, for the safety of their parents or grandparents, can show the independent elderly how to use digital technology and digital services that will help them to maintain connection to their communities and their to do lists – but at a digital distance.
2. They like to have structure in their lives and feel in control
- How can you help build structure into the lives of this cohort? What aspects of their previous pre-covid lives can you help them turn into digital engagement? Can you fill their calendars with classes to engage in hobbies or for the opportunity to learn new skills? Such things will likely be a welcome distraction.
- More, communicate clearly what your company is doing to manage the crisis and ensure their health and protection – this will become increasingly important as lockdowns lift. And ensure that presence-free customer service is frictionless, encourage connection at a distance – but ensure that empathy within these interactions is not lost among the efficiency such digital tools can offer.
3. They seek to broaden their experiences
- With travel limited, how can you encourage leisure among this group? For those who may find physical travel daunting, can you introduce them to the world of virtual travel or virtual museum exploration? Experiences such as online learning and virtual travel will help isolated elderly consumers build social connections and enjoy new experiences.
- More, what types of services can you provide for staycations or road trips? Or for the pursuit of new hobbies that can be taught online and achieved in the home? How can you use technology to encourage this group to keep up their active lifestyle?
Of course, not all Boomers are having a bad time under the pandemic, (several will have access to outside space, Zoom calls with the grandkids, financial reserves to face a prolonged slump, etc), not all seniors will sit tight forever at home, many are already out, enjoying life among the free (but with safety and health precautions, of course).
So, in summary:
- Their communities are important to them: Encourage (distanced/digital) family and community engagement.
- They like to have structure in their lives and feel in control: Target older consumers with tech offerings that supports their independence.
- They seek to broaden their experiences: Bring leisure and travel to them digitally/for those who seek physical travel, create services which allow them to travel independently and safely.
To watch Heather’s full talk visit: isolatedtalks.com/talks/okay-boomer