Event Marketing: Seniors gaining clout all the time

Michael Lang is president of Lang & Associates, a Toronto-based international event marketing agency with offices in Vancouver, Montreal and Atlanta.Kirsten Armitage is an account executive with Lang & Associates, and co-ordinator for the Event Marketing column. Contributions, ideas, media releases...

Michael Lang is president of Lang & Associates, a Toronto-based international event marketing agency with offices in Vancouver, Montreal and Atlanta.

Kirsten Armitage is an account executive with Lang & Associates, and co-ordinator for the Event Marketing column. Contributions, ideas, media releases and feedback should be directed to Kirsten at (416) 229-0060 or fax (416) 229-1210.

Canadians over the age of 50 are rapidly becoming a powerful consumer group.

By 2000, consumers aged 50+ will comprise up to one-third of Canada’s population, hold two-thirds of all discretionary income, and control more than 40% of the national vote.

Few trends are as predictable as population skews, yet these are all too often the trends which marketers neglect.

Research points out that seniors have respect for service and value, and remain loyal customers once they have identified a manufacturer, retailer or service organization that has demonstrated insight into their evolving needs and concerns.

Financial services, car makers and dealers, grocery, drug and convenience stores, mass merchandisers, transportation and travel services and single-serving food marketers could all benefit from strong programs that target and understand seniors.

While advertising in senior-targetted publications such as Today’s Seniors is an obvious way to communicate, less traditional marketing alternatives may prove even more effective.

For example, an endorsement from a respected seniors’ group for a product or service can overcome the barrier of distrust often held by seniors.

A seniors’ ‘club,’ offering special value for seniors, is another way to capture the market.

Such ‘relationship marketing’ allows marketers to position themselves against seniors discreetly, while still targetting a younger audience publicly.

A third way to gain visibility and credibility in the seniors’ market is to sponsor targetted events such as the recent Eleanor Mills cross-Canada walk for osteoporosis or the annual Royal Bank Seniors’ Jubilee Concerts, a variety show designed to give seniors the opportunity to perform in a major professional setting.

Hosted at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, this year’s four-day event featured 91 acts performed by more than 1,000 talented seniors who represented more than 50 communities across Ontario.

Royal Bank maximizes its sponsorship through elements such as in-branch breakfast send-offs hosted by employees, publication of a ‘Just for Seniors’ newsletter, seniors-related production promotions and on-site product booths.

Other examples of companies actively involved in seniors’ marketing include: One Voice, the Canadian Seniors’ Network, an organization that has done a tremendous amount of research regarding seniors’ issues, needs and concerns.

The organization has conducted extensive studies on issues connected with literacy, abuse of the elderly, nutrition, use of medication, disability, employment opportunities and the information highway.

Armed with a substantial understanding of the needs of a maturing generation, it is developing partnerships with a number of manufacturing, retailing and financial organizations to develop products and services to meet marketplace needs.

For more information, contact Ivan Hale at (613) 238-7624.

Sears Canada has developed the Mature Outlook membership program exclusively for customers aged 50+.

Membership provides a free catalogue, a newsletter, a variety of money-saving discounts on merchandise and selected benefits including discounts on hotels.

Sponsorship opportunity

The City of North York, which adjoins Toronto, hosts many high-profile events throughout the year at Mel Lastman Square.

The winter program kicks off with Celebration of Lights on Dec. 3, followed by the Seniors Big Band Dance on Dec. 10, and the annual New Year’s Eve Celebration.

The 15th Annual North York Winter Carnival, coming Feb. 10-12, will feature an ice-skating show, live entertainment, and an interactive children’s play area, among other activities.

Last year’s event attracted an unprecedented crowd of 100,000.

New sponsorship levels are available.

For more information, contact Robert Goode at (416) 395-7318.