Jun 29, 2017

Working With Today’s Seniors Requires a Whole Lotta Love

America’s beloved baby boomers are aging fast. As a result, many companies are redefining their products and marketing tactics to reach this growing market of retirees. Everything from senior-friendly travel and airlines to senior living apartments are vying for boomer attention. We had the privilege to work with Holiday Retirement, a company who provides senior accommodations throughout the United States. The account was multi-faceted and for various campaigns, required working directly with seniors for internal surveying or to feature their stories digitally.

We met WWII vets, pioneering women, former basketball players and couples celebrating 50 years of marriage. We discovered that to work with, and market to this audience, you have to rethink your approach completely. Similar to our teenage years, seniors have certain characteristics that must be accounted for in marketing — they’re no longer donning their rebellious teenage angst capes but they do have certain quirks and preferences that we learned are worth noting when planning strategy.


In marketing speak, KISS refers to “keep it simple, stupid.” When working with seniors, this is key. They value their time and if they are going to be bothered by outsiders, they want information to be direct, transparent and honest. Need them to sign a release waiver? Have a handy pitch letting them know what they’re signing and why so they don’t feel required to read the fine print.

12pt Isn’t Large Enough

We often overlook the fact that we design things in 12pt font or smaller. Many seniors wear glasses or have failing eyesight. Taking this into account, for a print survey, we ensured that there was adequate white space between the content blocks, that the print was at least 15pt and all graphics were easy to view.

Define Restrictions

When called upon to survey over 15,000 residents for internal feedback on programming, we had to be strategic in how questions were asked and what the answer options were. Providing room for open responses allows for off-topic remarks or feedback, and while useful for internal reference, didn’t play well when analyzing over 9,000 responses.

Allow for Extra Time

Over the course of the account, we created numerous videos that featured residents. Interviewing residents became one of our favorite parts of this account, but we realized that back-to-back interviews were not going to work. When speaking with seniors it’s important to schedule time around meals and events, to plan for walking times between floors, proximity to elevators and stopping for chats with passersby. Seniors are social and it is a fact of life that as we age, we move a bit more slowly. So if you plan for a day to film, add an extra day just in case.

Have a whole lotta love

As humans we are social creatures. Storytelling has been in our genetic makeup for thousands of years. Our elders have amazing stories. The biggest and most important part of our work with Holiday Retirement and their residents was a heavy dose of empathy and a listening ear. Walking seniors to and from interviews, sitting down to eat with them and visiting them in their apartments were all important pieces of building strong relationships and learning more about this unique demographic. Some of our best moments captured were impromptu and unintentional, all because we genuinely cared about learning more about our subjects.