The 5 lessons I’ve learned marketing to retirees

The 5 lessons I’ve learned marketing to retirees

Matt Coyle, Creative Brand Builder, Marketer, Leader, Designer with a passion for doing work that has an impact

Earlier this summer I helped launch Longevity, a pension-style mutual fund targeted at retirees, where I came to understand that age group a little more in-depth. Surprisingly, many of us working are very familiar with what retirement is supposed to look like, at least in the 20th century. We see it being about withdrawal. And inactivity. That when you stop working, you somehow both stop having any ambition to truly live your “golden years.”

The truth is many newly retired people—particularly the ones in their early years—tend to feel most energized and excited about what they can finally do. Here are a few considerations when marketing to an audience between 55 and 75.


  1. People retire from work, not life

Retirement marks the time in life when we get to choose what we really want to do, and who we want to do it with. It’s energizing to be in that position. Paint a new picture of retirement that showcases the desire to build, the boldness to dream, and the drive to make an impact.


2. 50 is the new 35

Last year there was a meme going around comparing Blanche Dubois from The Golden Girls to J Lo. Both were in their early fifties. Clearly, our perceptions and expectations around age have changed. The point is that if you’re going to market and portray people in retirement, skew younger because it’s a trap to use references that are older.


3. Market with both “new” and “traditional” media

Retirees might get a physical newspaper but then scroll Instagram afterward, keeping the habits they enjoy but adding new ones in order to stay connected. Don’t be scared of longer-form content—retirees are curious to learn and educate themselves and now actually have time to consume longer pieces. When selecting your media, ensure you don’t exclude one for another. They’re all valuable and play a role.


4. Anyone can be influenced to change habits if encouraged by their close network

Their kids, grandkids, friends, and community have a great influence on them. They may be resistant at first, but if what you’re proposing keeps them better connected and benefits them, then they’re game to try it. When targeting this demo, ensure you’re also including their “influencers” in your communications.


5. Avoid the cliches

We know them. We make fun of them. They’re tired. In every retirement category from pharma to vacation to retirement living. Sunny beaches. Hand holding. Sunsets. BIG smiles. Retirement is portrayed as some utopian cult. The only way to cut through all that BS is by being authentic. And trying a little hard. Think about it: if you were 65, would that appeal to you?

There is so much opportunity to speak to this group in a meaningful way. I call upon all the marketers out there to inspire us, so that maybe when we’re retired, the marketing will portray what retirement should be—the best years of your life. 

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