IT’S YOUR BUSINESS: Reaching out to the 50-plus crowd becoming integral to business

The population of the Comox Valley is fast approaching the threshold where more than 50 per cent of the population will fall in the “50 plus” age group.

With a current population of approximately 66,000 and roughly 33,000 residents aged 50 and over, according to BC Stats, it won’t be long before this happens.

What are you doing to prepare to reach out to this lucrative market?

The first thing you need to realize is that you cannot lump all of these people into one age group category that has similar characteristics. They are perhaps the most heterogeneous group of people that has entered the statistical columns of market researchers in North America.

The over 50s are as diverse in their needs and wants as they are in incomes, education, lifestyle, life experiences and a host of other characteristics that sets them apart from other target groups. Just because people are over 50 does not mean they all think alike or are set in their ways.

Marketers should remember the biggest component of this group are the baby boomers, the generation that broke all the rules that pertained to attitudes, values, new technology and habits that their parents, grandparents or even today’s generations have experienced.

Most marketers can understand that this group has money to spend. In many cases they are mortgage-free, don’t have children at home and are not carrying a large amount of debt. But this does not mean they are ripe for buying anything that is put before them. In large measure they are looking for products and services that fit with their lifestyle.

In the Comox Valley we are aware of the reasons why many of these people have moved here … outdoor activities, moderate temperatures, ease of being able to take off on vacations, to name just a few.

What marketers need to understand also is that these people are looking for products that will help them stay healthy and give them more time to enjoy life. Most importantly they need to understand that these people will be around for another 20 or 30 years which gives them the chance to develop longer lasting customer relationships.

Marketers also need to understand that within this group there are also sub-groups who are as diverse as the entire demographic spectrum. This goes back to marketing 101 where the first order of business is to understand just exactly who your target market is and how best to develop communications strategies to reach them. In other words not all 50 plus people want the same things.

Some of the things marketers need to be aware of are fairly basic but often forgotten. For example in graphic presentation alone, as people age, changes in eyesight demand plainer typefaces, larger fonts and higher contrast in colours. When it comes to web design keep it simple and avoid, for example, any high-energy, animation-type graphics.

Also important to remember is that these people are at the point where they need substantive and compelling reasons to buy a product or service. Over their lifetime they have been bombarded by hundreds of thousands of advertising messages and at this point are perhaps more cynical towards marketing messages than most. Messages have to be clear, concise and relevant.

A quick review of why people buy shows that younger consumers often buy brands that promise to fulfill a lifestyle or make a statement about who they are. On the other hand most 50 plus consumers know who they are and are looking for products and services that “fit” in with their lifestyle.

Bottom line is that there is more to marketing to the 50 plus crowd than many marketers realize. It is in your best interests to find out how as the trends show that more and more of these people are being attracted to the Valley and all that it has to offer.



Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at or visit his art website at


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