‘Healthy agers’ are “a generation of people who have a clear awareness of health, a strong sense of independence and loyalty toward the brands they use," according to work conducted by the Healthy Marketing Team (HMT) consultancy together with the master’s program in Applied Cultural Analysis (MACA).
As seen with other demographics, the purchase drivers and motivations for healthy agers are not all the same. The one-size-fits all approach does not work in product innovation. European seniors were uncomfortable with products that expressly mentioned age, and they showed a preference for sustainable and naturally nutritious products. In contrast, age-segmentation and focusing on health concerns with products that offer a real proven benefit has been successfully deployed in Asia. The research showed, however, that healthy agers across the board want support and partnership from a brand, and not just problem solutions. As expected, there were certain commonalities and differences between consumers in Northern Europe and Asia.
Approaches for Healthy Aging Brands
Brands need to play a supportive role with consumers and empower their lifestyles. When targeting senior consumers:
1. Be Pro-Age and not Anti-Age
Aging is natural, and comes with certain physiological and psychological changes. Brands must embrace aging, and partner with seniors to help them age with pride and dignity. For instance, the Dove Pro-Age collection of skin and body products used the tagline “because beauty has no age limit." The key life insight in targeting those who don’t want to be targeted is to remember that seniors want to hear that ‘old’ is 15 years older than they are.
2. Empower and Support
Seniors do not want to be rescued. Empowering them is what brands must do in supporting them to keep the life they love for longer. The rational message of brands with a healthy aging promise can and should be life-stage specific, but the emotional payoff is about empowerment to celebrate and enjoy their life as much as they can.
3. Normalize the Concerns and Conditions of Aging
Healthy aging is not just about the appropriate life-stage food choices, but is also about lifestyle adjustments. Brands must integrate into the daily living rituals of seniors and become the “new normal," so seniors can see their brand and lifestyle choices as “smart adjustments" rather than compromises.
4. Make Acting Simple, yet Aspirational
Facebook and mobile apps may be passé for Millennials who are already on to the next new thing, but seniors can be counted by 360-degree brand engagement programs that not only empower them with the latest information, but also make it easier for them to act to keep their health and well-being as they get on in years. Community support groups can be initiated by brands through on-ground digital platforms, easy-to-use mobile apps, user-friendly interactive packs and helplines for advisory services. Each of these elements can make it easier for seniors to make the right choices for their life stage.
The cultural differences in healthy agers’ behavior and attitudes highlighted by the MACA research reflects our own understanding of developed and growth market success factors, where functionality and tradition weigh highly in emerging markets. The correct understanding of consumer segmentation is key to the successful positioning and market entry of your brand.
Forget the one-size-fits all approach, remember that healthy agers are not a homogeneous demographic, and that there is an opportunity for brands to partner with them as their lifestyles needs
Lesley Stevenson, Ph.D., is an expert consultant at The Healthy Marketing team (HMT, thehmt.com) an international and multicultural strategy consultancy focused on innovation, marketing and branding in food and health. Since its foundation in 2008, HMT has worked with customer projects in more than 60 countries across the globe. Most recently, with Abbott Nutrition, Fonterra and GSK Nutrition, Stevenson has worked on many different categories in Europe, China, South East Asia and Australasia. She is a specialist in strategic innovation and R&D within the food and health area
Peter Wennström is founder and expert consultant at The Healthy Marketing team (HMT). An expert in food and health marketing Wennström is the author of The FourFactors® of Success-how to innovate healthy brands, and the co-author of “The Food and Health Marketing Handbook." His latest book, “The FourFactors for Growth Market Success," focuses on how to build nutrition brands for success in emerging markets.