The Nielsen NeuroFocus work takes account of the ongoing discoveries in neuroscience about what’s called the “plasticity” of the mature brain—the ability of the brain to continue changing throughout life, even if it changes more slowly than does the young brain.
In my opinion, this research provides intriguing leads, but needs to be confirmed with other types of consumer research findings. Here, then, is my version of the Progressive Grocer recommendations supplemented with research findings from University of Pennsylvania, University of California-Los Angeles, and University of California-Irvine.
- The older brain prefers nuanced over simplistic selling messages. However, while the message can be complex, the delivery should be easy to see and hear, and there should be memory aids for the seniors to take away with them.
- Older consumers respond better than do younger consumers to advertising and face-to-face selling which includes multifaceted emotions. As a general rule, talk mostly about positive emotions (comfort, contentment, joy) and stay with an upbeat tone. However, combining the positive with the negative (fear, sorrow, envy) can also be powerful. Start out by talking about avoiding the negative and then segue into talking about achieving the positive. As people age, they get better at turning the negative into the positive (such as comfort from having control over fear).
- Add to the effect of the emotional messages by tying into socializing (“What’s better than enjoying this game with grandchildren?” “Don’t let embarrassment keep you from lunching with friends.”) In many of today’s cultures, elderly people experience increasingly limited participation in social events. This can be because younger family members pull away, because physical problems make it more difficult or more fearsome to socialize freely, or for other reasons. Sales promises to ease loneliness enhance emotional appeals.
- Then supercharge the emotional appeal by reminding the senior of time limits: “This offer is good for just the next three days.” “Why wait to start enjoying the benefits?” Researchers discovered that what’s behind the attractiveness of emotional appeals for seniors is the realization that the seniors’ time on earth is limited. Young consumers don’t think about this much. Older consumers recognize the realities better.
Emphasize Emotions with Older Consumers