Stages Not Ages
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing those who serve mid-life adults is the language used to describe and engage them. Terms like "senior," "elderly," even "older adult" carry negative connotations that usually suggest diminished or declining capacities. A term like "retirement" is becoming irrelevant in today’s world of extended and active work lives.
Marketing leaders believe that active older adults are best reached by appealing to their core values, interests and lifestyle choices rather than by targeting their chronological age. Many mid-life adults who are active, engaged, adventurous types respond best to experiences that promise them the same.
Organizations (including public libraries) that effectively market themselves to mid-life adults acknowledge this "encore" stage of life as a time of exploring options, making new connections, learning new things, re-tooling skills, and sharing talents and wisdom. By targeting mid-life adults with language that speaks to a life stage and not an age, organizations will attract people of all ages who are navigating that particular stage or who share similar interests and lifestyles.
When it comes to a mid-life demographic marketing strategies consider:
- Instead of age, think STAGE.
- Instead of illness, think WELLNESS.
- Instead of old, think ACTIVE.
- Instead of decline, think POTENTIAL.
- Instead of cared for, think INDEPENDENT.
By promoting AGELESS CONCEPTS, adults of all ages benefit. In fact, reframing how we think about aging can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Research has found that thinking positively about getting older can extend one's life by 7.5 years – that's more than the longevity gained from low blood pressure, or low cholesterol, or maintaining a healthy weight, or abstaining from smoking, or exercising regularly!