A common practice in the world of advertising and marketing to senior citizens is predominantly based on showcasing the segment as old, weak, and a pretty much non-existent strata that comprises helpless beings who significantly depend on others for fulfilling their basic needs. Reports by prestigious advocacy organizations such as AARP reveal that in the United States, senior citizens appear in only 15% of the media images. Moreover, Havas Group indicates, only about 5% of U.S. advertising is aimed at people over 50.

These statistics present grave differences between how marketing industry either fails to do appropriate “seniorvertising” or simply neglects the section. However, it might come as a surprise to you that- “Approximately 53 million people in the U.S. older than 50 are employed, making up a third of the American labor force.” (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Pondering over the question of overall social media use, the amount of time spent by senior citizens isn’t striking compared to those aged under 30. According to a new survey by Pew Research Center 2021, citizens between 50 to 64 (73%) say they use social media sites, while fewer than half of those above 65 and older (45%) report frequent interaction through social media.

Even though old consumers hold spending power of trillions of dollars, stereotypes raised by the advertising industry cannot be ignored. Ads geared toward the senior citizen are pathetic to say the least. Most of the brands still see the younger generation as the trend setters, tech savvies and capable of generating high sales. One might wonder and question- Is attention age-specific? At least, we don’t believe it.

Age Before Beauty: Shifting Trends In Industry

In their new book, What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life’s Third Age, authors Ken Dychtwald and Robert Morison explore misconceptions revolving around “seniorvertising” and respond with answers on how to fix the problem. Obsession with youthism blinds marketers and prohibits from seeing the senior citizen’s spending potential. A study conducted by Ofcom reveal the following data

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Major brands such as Adidas, Tommy Hilfger, Nike, L'oreal Paris, British Vogue, Taco Bell, Coca-cola, have recognised the opportunities and begun bridging the gaps by directly including the group in their campaigns. There has been a massive growth in the online presence of over 55-consumers. Aside from appearing in home settings, medical care commercials, and life insurance advertisements, more brands are actively engaging the group in luxury campaigns.

Email Marketing: A More Practical Approach

In the plethora of available senior citizen databases offered by emailing list providers, the marketers need to find the most appropriate strategy to target senior citizens and a balance between reach and frequency.

Email marketing is undoubtedly the most practical approach today. However, marketers toggle between which approach to prioritize first. Oftentimes, they have to choose between maximizing the number of people on the mailing list or sending multiple campaigns to a smaller list. Why? The reason being the need for businesses to be swift in their financial decision capacities when marketing to any category.

Defining Reach and Frequency

Frequency and reach are usually terms associated with executing business plans and measurement of marketing campaign stages. Additionally, they also represent two ways of prioritizing your advertising dollars.

Reach: is the total number of people exposed to your marketing message. In direct mail terms, your reach would represent the total number of addresses on your mailing list. Frequency: is the number of times the people on your list are exposed to your marketing message or brand. If you choose to mail to the same list of people three times, your frequency would be three.

Focus On Frequency For Better Returns

If you’re planning a direct mail campaign using a senior citizen emailing list and you haven’t factored frequency into your strategy, then we strongly suggest decreasing your reach so you can increase your frequency- for example- if you only have enough budget to target 10,000 people one time or 2,000 people five times, it would be more beneficial to target 2,000 people five times.

This might sound counterintuitive to what others should be suggesting to you. Well! Reach is important. What we’re saying is reach without frequency is a waste of money as it is more unlikely to see much of a return from a one-off marketing campaign. The same analogy has been drawn by author-Seth Godin-in his work Permission Marketing.

Business marketers need to utilize the reach and frequency technique with a balanced approach- meaning targeting all individuals alike. It is never a wise choice for businesses to target a specific group hoping for an equivalent impact on the audience.

Another lesson that can be drawn from the above stated analogy is that reach without frequency leads to nothing, while the right combination of reach and frequency leads to better growth. A marketer is just like the smart gardener who continuously needs to nurture his seeds with frequent watering instead of infrequent interaction with senior citizens.

How To Determine Your Optimal Frequency?

A blog published by Businesses Insider indicated that it takes a minimum of 3 to 5 impressions to form an advertising message before consumers begin to take action. While the number of exposures varies from business to business, it remains true that consistently marketing to the same group of people is the most effective way to get them to act. All a business needs to do is find their ideal frequency. It could be 2 or 7. The only way to figure out what works best for you is to start mailing more frequently.

Don’t Quit Too Soon

Majority of direct mailers give up as soon as their first campaign fails to produce desired results. The truth is that marketing is a process, and processing takes time to work effectively. While frequency isn’t the only factor that determines direct mail success, in most cases, if you’re persistent you’ll eventually succeed.


Senior citizens is one of the groups that is unwittingly left non targeted by marketers when it comes to email marketing to a productive strata that contributes in the building up of the economy. This is undeniably the biggest myth that senior citizens are non-productive.

Our experts at Senior Source List have, for years, studied the mail marketing techniques and conclude that the category of mature adults comprises 52 Million senior citizens databases making investments in four broad industries- Healthcare, Finance, Housing, and Entertainment. Marketers have begun to notice the chaos and are opting to be more inclusive. They should realise the spending potential of senior citizens, if they haven't already. Strategies built on equal balance can save the disruption in the audience and lead to better marketing advertising approaches.