Use Nostalgia to Capture Older Customers

Many startups especially those involving younger entrepreneurs  see the market segment for the older generation as unattractive. These young entrepreneurs tend to focus on the market for people of their generation. However, ignoring the market for those in their sixties and above may mean forgoing a significant chunk of the total market segment for certain products and services. Increasingly, this group of customers is becoming larger as a proportion of the total population in most countries.

The reason given by entrepreneurs for ignoring the silver generation is that many of them are poor and living from hand to mouth. This is similar to the argument put forth by companies when contemplating investing in countries like China and India in the 1980s and 1990s. During that time, these countries may have only a small say 10 percent proportion of those considered middle income then. This compared unfavorably with Western economies where the middle income group was the majority. However enlightened companies at that time considered the fact that these countries had populations in a billion or so. Thus a 10 percent proportion meant a 100 million people in the middle income group. By focusing on these numbers rather than the small percentage, many companies thrived and were rewarded in later years as the proportion of the middle income group rose.

The same could be said for companies ignoring the market for people in their sixties today. The proportion of those who are well educated and reasonably financially independent may be small. However their numbers are rising day by day. As each year progresses, the proportion of the silver generation in many countries rises at the expense of their younger counterparts.

How then could startups take advantage of this situation? One way is through the use of nostalgia to attract this group of older customers. In Las Vegas in 2019, concerts by Rod Steward, Elton John and the Eagles cater to such people.  Although dead for more than 4 decades ago, Elvis Presley still commands a following among the elderly. Elsewhere around the world, casinos including those in Las Vegas are raking in millions if not billions of dollars catering to this group of customers. Cruises and tour operators had also benefited from pandering to them.

However other than these obvious efforts, few products and services had been focused on people in their sixties and above. Some would argue that such people purchase few products and services anyway. A few companies made efforts at creating nostalgia through products like bluetooth speakers made to look vintage. It is doubtful as to their success in attracting older customers to purchase their products. Genuine effort is needed to create products and services that not only provides a nostalgic feeling and yet function well in this modern era. Sony recently introduced the new 40th Anniversary edition of the Sony Walkman which on the surface looked like the original product in its heydays. The silver generation could fondly recall the Sony Walkman which played cassette tapes and brought joy to them in the prime of their lives.

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