Our life experiences shape our view of the world. For example, in today’s age, we think nothing about the introduction of trains. The only time we are aware of them is when we are stopped at a crossing waiting for it to pass. Yet imagine those who were alive when trains were first introduced. That population marveled at this mysterious technology that advanced transportation to speeds never before experienced in the history of the world. Trains also literally changed our view of the world. Prior to the introduction of the “Iron Horse”, travel was difficult at best. Most of the population never traveled more than 20 miles from where they were born. The train made us a mobile population, allowing for the West’s growth and for commodities like lumber and grain to be transported back east.
That is a much different perspective from those who were born after the introduction of the train. It was taken for granted. Our Baby Boomer population has experienced many of these revolutionary changes in only a few decades. We remember what the world was like before man walked on the moon and Polio was a common curse among the young.
Those kinds of past experiences give seniors a much different perspective on the world and marketers must be keenly aware of the differences. Although social media is becoming more popular a medium among the aging population, it would be a big mistake to assume that it is being viewed in the same fashion as the younger population. Certainly, new technology has been assimilated by everyone. It’s always amazing to see toddlers adeptly typing away on their parents’ iPads. It is a familiar tool to them. When the IBM’s and Commodores’ were first introduced in the 70s, many first adapters did not know how to type on a keyboard. Yet, out of necessity, they quickly learned.
Still, seniors have not entirely abandoned things they are innately familiar with. They still read magazines and respond to direct mail. Much of their time spent reading still entails books and newspapers. Just visit any library and observe the patrons and observe their behavior. Dollars to donuts, the average age of those reading magazines and taking out books skew to the older generation. News and information are also still derived from passive media like TV and newspapers.
The lesson to marketers here is, before you put your budget into electronic and social media, consider other options that are more familiar to your targeted audience like mailing lists and printed media. You may be surprised by the results.