Language Critical in Reaching Older Americans

May 15, 2012 ( - Language is critical in reaching the “senior citizen” demographic to explain investment products, according to research firm Hearts & Wallets.  

By Tara Cantore | May 15, 2012
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Aging investors recognize there may come a time when they will need to tap into accumulated savings rather than relying solely on work income. Yet older Americans talk about becoming “unemployable” instead of retirement.

“Pre- and post-retirees ages 53 to 75 don’t see themselves as ‘senior citizens,’ a term they perceive as referring to sedentary or really old people” said Chris Brown, Hearts & Wallets principal. “Even though they may technically be eligible for ‘senior discounts,’ they prefer language with positive associations to describe this time in their life. They get to do what they want and have more freedom. Financial services firms and advisers that use positive wording associated with freedom will have a stronger connection with this market segment.”

Three Major Types of Older Investors 

Not all aging Americans are alike in how they want to balance work and leisure. The latest Hearts & Wallets Explore study, “Shining a Light on Pre- and Post-Retirees: What 3 Different Retirement Lifestyles Reveal about Language, Attitudes and Experiences with Advice and Retirement Income,” is drawn from nationwide focus groups that divided older investors into three main groups according to preference:

1) Full Steam Aheads—Plan to work at least part-time, to avoid mental deterioration and keep their options open.

2) Balancers—View part-time work as an insurance policy for the future and a way to earnspending money.

3) Leisure Pacers—Plan to stop working (or already have), but are more involved with their finances now than ever before.