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Connecting to the Needs of Pre-Retirees

I did a quick survey of some friends and family today, asking them how they would define a “pre-retiree.” Here’s what I heard:

  • Age: 45– 80
  • Gender: Male or Female
  • Marital Status: Married or divorced
  • Annual Income: $35,000 – $150,000

This wide variety in answers didn’t surprise me. As the Boomer generation ages, they are redefining many of our societal norms, including when they retire, how they retire, and how much money they have going into and through retirement. As a result, the pre-retiree audience often spans almost the entire Boomer generation (even Boomers who have official “retired” often end up back in the workforce thus becoming “pre-retirees” again).

How then, as a marketer, are you supposed to effectively target this audience? Even if you add additional demographic data, you’ll find that you either 1) Can’t find enough commonality to target; or 2) Have to break the groups into such small, finite segments that the campaign becomes difficult, if not impossible, to fund and execute.

So, what’s a marketer to do?

At Immersion Active, we follow a developmental relationship marketing (DRM) approach to planning and executing our campaigns. This approach allows us to minimize the importance of typical age, gender, and marital status demographics because, rather than focusing on the “differences” between consumers, we focus on the commonalities across consumers.

How’s it work?

According to human behavior specialists like Abraham Maslow and David Wolfe, all humans share common core needs.

In either case, the underlying principle is that, as humans, we are biologically driven to meet these core needs and that we all have these needs all of the time, with some needs being met more fully at any given moment.

Developmental Relationship Marketing (DRM) leverages this principle to say that, by targeting the core need(s) consumers are trying to meet, you can more readily connect to consumers across a variety of demographic segments.

Consider this example:

Regardless of their age, a person in pre-retirement mode is preparing for significant life changes: leaving the workforce, starting an encore career, changes in income levels, fixed incomes, an increased risk of health issues, concerns about health insurance, the expectation of more time for friends and family, etc.

These life changes can cause pre-retirees to feel that they have a gap in or opportunity to enrich their core needs:

  • Identity – For years, pre-retirees’ identities may have been defined by their job, their title, where they work, or what they do. Suddenly, that’s changing, and now they are struggling to redefine or reestablish their identities.
  • Relationship – Many pre-retirees see retirement as an opportunity to spend more time with friends and family, thus strengthening their relationships; however, retirement can also seem to threaten established relationships among co-workers, or even between spouses who simply aren’t used to being together 24/7.
  • Purpose – Often pre-retirees see retirement as an opportunity to volunteer and contribute to the community. Planning how and when they can give back are important parts of meeting a pre-retirees’ Purpose needs.
  • Energy – As we age, we all face an increased risk of health issues and mature consumers are extremely conscious of their health needs. Taking action now to help ensure a health future is just one way pre-retirees might meet their Energy needs.
  • Adaptation – Too often we think that the need to adapt and learn ends when we leave high school or college; however, ask any pre-retiree about things like pensions, 401Ks, Medicare, medi-gap insurance, etc. and it’s easy to see that pre-retirees have perhaps as many Adaptation needs as a young child.

While these are only a few examples of how pre-retirees’ might be trying to fulfill their core needs, hopefully you can quickly see the opportunity to connect your brand with the fulfillment of these needs. And how that marketing approach would allow you to build a relationship with these consumers across traditional demographic segments.

Two equally important principles of DRM are:

  • Making an emotional connection
  • Understanding the consumers’ season of life and how that impacts how consumers fulfill their needs.

To learn more about these two concepts, download this free section of Dot Boom: Marketing to Baby Boomers through Meaningful Online Engagement.

For a more stats and data on the pre-retiree audience, get our Pre-Retiree data sheet here.