Marketers have long been accused of overlooking the seniors market, but for Brampton, Ont.’s Heart to Home Meals, seniors are its only market.
The franchise company delivers home-style frozen meals, soups and desserts to seniors’ doorsteps throughout southwestern Ontario. Its target audience is a demographic sweet spot: by 2031, the number of Canadians 65+ will double to 9.6 million and comprise up to 25% of the population, making it the country’s fastest-growing market.
To promote its new name and new catalogue, Heart to Home Meals is reaching its core customers 75+ the traditional way: print ads in Metroland community newspapers and direct marketing. Michael Gazer, president of Heart to Home Meals, shared his insights on marketing to this fast growing and often misunderstood demographic.
- Seniors are price-conscious, not thrifty. “I think there’s a misconception that seniors are thrifty and I would disagree,” said Gazer. “They, like everyone, want good value. They appreciate companies that give them good value and good service.”
- Seniors are strong brand advocates. If they like a product or service, they will go out of their way to recommend it, said Gazer.
- Seniors are extraordinarily loyal. “Unlike other target groups that may be more fickle… seniors are very, very loyal,” said Gazer. “As marketers, we’re all looking for that group of high-frequency, high-value customers. And seniors, if you do it right, are exactly in that area.”
- Seniors are tactile. “They like receiving physical things and they like referencing things,” said Gazer. “When the Thursday [community] paper comes in, they’ll read it from start to finish. That channel works well because it’s cost-effective and it’s sticky. They’ll keep the print publication on their coffee table for the week until the next one comes out.” And with direct mail, “again it’s that’s physical, in-your-hand piece of marketing that works well with this demographic.”
And what about digital and all those stories of grandparents flocking to Facebook? Gazer said with its core customers aged 75 and over, internet usage is growing. “But the reality is, there’s a low percentage of people over the age of 75 who are on Facebook and who are buying online.”
That said, Heart to Home Meals is starting to get into digital marketing. It has an e-commerce site that accounts for 20% of its business, but those orders are placed primarily by customers’ caregivers or children.
In the coming years, the use of traditional marketing channels will likely subside and the company will focus more on digital, as today’s web-savvy younger boomers reach their 70s. “In 10 years, it will be dramatically different as the 65-year-olds today become the 75-year-olds of tomorrow,” said Gazer.
Article By: Rebecca Harris, Marketing Magazine, MAY 12, 2015
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