Marketing to Senior Citizens – Challenges and Opportunities

The fitness industry is a tough one. It’s getting more competitive and difficult to stand out from the crowd. Businesses need to find creative ways to improve their marketing strategy and create content that will resonate with their audience. But are you targeting the right audience?

Most fitness businesses aren’t. So, what is the right audience? And why?

Here are seven compelling reasons why savvy fitness business owners are developing marketing strategies for middle-aged adults – the active agers that could transform your gym or fitness studio’s fortunes.

  1. People over 50 are more aware of their health and need to stay fit

People over 50 are more aware of their health and the need to stay fit. They want to enjoy the grandchildren, travel, take up new hobbies, and do the things they’ve been promising themselves to do.

It’s a strange phenomenon, but age focuses the mind on time. When you hit 50 you start to become aware that time on the planet is running out. You’ve got all these things to do, and less time in which to do them. So, it’s important to stay fit.

Those aches, pains, and injuries hurt a little more and take longer to mend. The physician talks more about drinking less, eating more healthily, and taking regular exercise. Some people go for a walk, others prefer swimming or cycling, perhaps dancing. Regular gym sessions can help, too. 

The trouble is that few gyms and fitness studios are marketing to older adults. All the marketing is aimed at fit and agile 20-somethings. 

  1. Older adults have a social need that fitness businesses can satisfy

Older adults are often faced with social isolation as they age. The need to meet people and maintain social connections becomes even more important for this population when they retire. However, it is not always easy for these individuals to find suitable activities that satisfy needs for companionship.

Fitness businesses can provide a place for older adults to meet new people and integrate into the community to reduce this social isolation. They can enjoy various benefits of group activities like increased self-esteem, social support, reduced loneliness, and the opportunity to make new friends.

A study by Cedars-Sinai found that loneliness is connected to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. In evidence-based exercise and health management classes, it was found that group exercise classes helped to reduce feelings of social isolation among older people – and the more time they participate, the more pronounced the improvement.

The trouble is that few gyms and fitness studios are marketing to older adults. All the marketing is aimed at fit and agile 20-somethings.

  1. Older adults are more loyal customers for fitness businesses

Most gyms have an attrition rate of between 30% and 50% of their members. In other words, up to half the members you sign up will cease to be a member of your gym within 12 months. Gym member retention is a big problem for many fitness businesses.

This isn’t surprising. Only 1 in 5 American adults say they tend to be loyal to a brand. One third will try a new product, even if the one they are using is one they like. But research shows there is one demographic that is hugely loyal.

Older adults are fiercely loyal to brands they like. If you prove your reliability and quality of service, then you can expect loyalty from older adults who become members of your gym. Three-quarters of those born between 1946 and 1964 (the so-called ‘baby boomers’) say they are brand loyal.

The trouble is that few gyms and fitness studios are marketing to older adults. All the marketing is aimed at fit and agile 20-somethings.

  1. Older people have time to become active agers at fitness businesses

As people age, they have more time to spend doing things other than working and being mom and dad’s taxi service. They look for new hobbies and start ticking off items on their bucket list. And, of course, to spend their free time productively, they need to be fit enough to do so. 

How much extra time do older people have than their younger counterparts? In research on age differences in social activities, it was found that older people spend around 2.6 hours per day more on leisure activities than younger people. That’s more than 18 hours per week. Almost 950 hours a year that they could be spending in a gym or fitness studio as active agers.

The trouble is that few gyms and fitness studios are marketing to older adults. All the marketing is aimed at fit and agile 20-somethings.

  1. People over 50 are a huge and rapidly growing market for fitness businesses

Around a third of the population of America is over 50 years old. That’s about 117 million people. That’s huge. If this demographic were living in their own country, it would be the twelfth largest in the world. And this number will explode in the coming years, growing to 157 million by 2050.

In contrast, there are only around 35 million people between the age of 20 and 30 – a number that is expected to stay stable over the next three decades.

Focusing on people over 50 offers gyms and fitness studios a big market now, and an even bigger market in the future. Great earnings potential today and future-proofed, too.

The trouble is that few gyms and fitness studios are marketing to older adults. All the marketing is aimed at fit and agile 20-somethings.

  1. Active agers have the money to spend at fitness businesses

40% of the U.S. economy can be attributed to people over 50. If our older people lived in their own country, it would be the third-largest economy in the world. Let that sink in a moment. Bigger than Germany. Bigger than the UK or France. Bigger than Canada and Mexico. Smaller only than the US and China.

With mortgages paid off, great retirement benefits, homes that have exploded in value, and no dependents draining finances, people over 50 have the cash to spend on the things that matter most to them including their health and wellbeing.

The trouble is that few gyms and fitness studios are marketing to older adults. All the marketing is aimed at fit and agile 20-somethings.

  1. Active agers are easy to market to by fitness businesses

There’s a misconception that older people are hard to market to. That you’ll need to spend thousands of dollars on ineffective newspaper and radio ads. This is simply not true.

The stereotype of older people being all fingers and thumbs with technology needs to be confined to the trash. While almost 9 in 10 millennials are tech-savvy, those aged between 55 and 73 aren’t far behind, with 7 in 10 reporting that they own a smartphone, tablet, computer, or all three. And a huge number of these have social media accounts.

Marketing directly to active agers has never been easier. Indeed, when it comes to broadband services at home, 74% of baby boomers are on the internet at home compared to 78% of millennials. No practical difference – except older people have more time to see your content and ads on their social media.

The trouble is that few gyms and fitness studios are marketing to older adults. All the marketing is aimed at fit and agile 20-somethings.

Active agers are the target market for fitness businesses to aim for

Active agers are the target market for gyms and fitness studios to aim for:

  • Active agers have the time and the motivation to work out and take care of their health.

  • They have the spending power to pay for group fitness sessions and bespoke personal training.

  • It’s a demographic that offers a huge market today, and huge growth potential in the future.

  • And it’s a market that is easy to reach out to (with the right content, of course).

  • It’s a target market that holds massive opportunities today. Right now.  But few gyms and fitness studios are marketing to older adults. All the marketing is aimed at fit and agile 20-somethings.

Sometimes the opportunities with the most potential are missed, even though that potential is staring you in the face. Is the challenge of marketing to older people too great? What content should you produce to attract this demographic?

Don’t be left behind. Take advantage of the active aging market now, with the content that will resonate with this huge demographic, before your competitors do.

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