HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Laptops and iPads are commonplace. Medical marijuana is no longer a taboo subject. What could be considered extreme sports are among the activities of choice. Gluten-free and locally sourced foods are expected. Is this a college?
Try a continuing care retirement community, or CCRC, according to a new senior marketing study.
Generation Engaged: What Forward-Thinking Marketers Need to Know About Today's Mature Market (Findings From Project Looking Glass II) provides insights into the mindset of the modern retirement community resident. It reveals an industry in flux, facing multigenerational challenges, but also plenty of opportunities.
Based on total immersion, focus group findings and supervised shopping, the senior market research was conducted by Varsity, a leading marketing communications and research agency specializing in the mature market.
In 2007, Varsity sent two researchers to become full-time residents at a CCRC in Pennsylvania for 31 days to learn how marketers and specialists could better reach the senior population, a nationally recognized effort that became known as Project Looking Glass. Dynamic shifts in the economy, healthcare and technology prompted the agency to revisit the concept again in July 2012, sending a researcher to Boulder, Colorado's Frasier Meadows for one month. While there, she kept written and video records of day-to-day activities, conversations and other community interactions.
Phase One included a series of observations and in-depth interviews with retirement community residents, administration and staff. An additional open-source element allowed members of the industry and public to participate through social media channels that included Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. During Phase Two, additional researchers conducted focus groups with current and potential residents, and accompanied them on "shop-alongs" at Best Buy, Target, Safeway, restaurant chains and other outlets.
"The findings are extremely revealing," said Varsity's director of client services John Bassounas, "not just in comparison to our 2007 project, but in terms of the changes in the people themselves. What we're seeing is an intelligent, informed, highly engaged group that is much more physically and intellectually active than its counterpart just five years ago, and much more in control."
Top-level findings include:
- The current mature market population is "transitional" -- a mixture of the Depresson-era Silent Generation and early Boomers who share some values, but are very distinctive in wants, needs and behaviors
- Today's seniors conduct more online research prior to a move or purchase decision
- The popularity of homecare is increasing, something that could pose a threat to current independent and assisted living models.
- Developers need to be cognizant of aging in place features
- Dietary trends include low-sodium, gluten-free, ocean-friendly and locally sourced items
- Concern about future generations' ability to afford a retirement community
- Activities must be wellness- and intellectually-oriented
- There are mixed views on healthcare reform, and more acceptance of person-centered, alternative and holistic treatments
- They are open to new technologies, including smartphones, tablets and computers
"This new study gives us a greater understanding of today's mature market, as well as insights regarding the opportunities we have for reaching them," adds Bassounas. "This audience has tremendous spending power, and providers of products and services will have to evolve and stay ahead of trends in order to remain competitive and appealing. We hope this provides some thought starters that will help Boomer and senior marketers make decisions based on facts, not assumptions."
Based in Harrisburg, Pa., Varsity provides marketing services for clients in the retirement living, consumer goods and services, technology and healthcare practice areas. The agency's client roster includes Sodexo Senior Living, American Standard Brands, Delta Health Technologies and a number of continuing care retirement communities across the U.S.
A copy of the full report may be requested at varsitybranding.com.
Members of the Varsity team are available to provide in-depth presentations of the report, either via webinar or in person. To schedule a presentation or for additional information, contact Matt Bekelja at 717-652-1277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Varsity is the nation's leading full-service marketing communications agency focused on winning the mature market. We connect the mature market with brands through one of four main categories: retirement living, consumer goods & services, technology and healthcare. Research drives our work and our team of passionate strategists in the disciplines of creative, public relations, interactive and media. For more information, visit www.varsitybranding.com.
Shane M. Swisher