“Seniors, particularly baby boomers, each believe they belong to a market segment made up of exactly one person,” says Quinnipiac’s Blaine Branchik, in a New York Times article by Charles Duhigg (1/6/08). “Many believe the only thing they have in common is that they are all so unique that they have nothing in common,” he adds. Does that stop marketers from trying to put them into neat little boxes (other than the pine kind)? Of course not. Age Wave, a consulting firm, “has settled on four essential categories for post-retirement consumers” — Ageless Explorers, Comfortably Contents, Live for Todays and Sick and Tireds.
As the monikers suggest, Ageless Explorers “respond to images of silver-haired scuba divers reinventing themselves in their waning years.” Comfortably Contents, are “more attracted to scenes of fishermen, friendly dogs and rocking chairs.” Live for Todays, have financial anxieties, making them “easy targets for Cost Rican retirement communities and thrifty insurance plans.” Then there are the Sick and Tireds, who are “basically ready to die, who are attracted to anything that makes the waiting less painful, particularly if it costs less than $19.95. Such well-built boxes can be irrelevant, though.
The Honda Element, for example, was designed for, and advertised to, young buyers. The Element does sell well “among younger adults,” but is “also a surprising seller among retirees, who like it because it is low to the ground and because the durable floors can handle gardening equipment and pets as easily as surfboards and mountain bikes.” As Emilio Pardo of AARP notes: “Life is based on someone’s needs, not how many years they’ve lived.” And besides, some experts say, where teens “don’t mind being belonging to a group” because they can always reinvent themselves later on, older folks “are running out of opportunities for reinvention.” ~ Tim Manners, editor