Let’s focus on one type of men that if we often see in the landscape of advertising campaigns. The confident man who sets himself apart. He has control of his life and stands on his own as a one-manned island. Maybe he has a significant other, but she’s more of an accessory in his life than a partner. This man is poised as being in the prime of his life, salt and pepper hair, financially secure, and with a future where he’s in command. Retirement commercials are brimming with this version of manhood. This is the man typical of older generations, the strong stoic type and he’s sets a vivid contrast against the modern man, the millennial dad that we discussed last week.

These are men in the twilight of the Baby Boomer generation all the way to seniors. They’re people with traditional values, but they’re also not traditionally the “retired” generation of their forefathers who spent their days not doing a whole lot. This group wants to be active. They want options. When marketing to them, that’s what you have to get across first and foremost.

Keynote speaker and trends observer Patrick Dixon understands this market well and has the following key principles to take away when considering how to craft your message to gear marketing towards an older demographic.

Tip #1: Don’t Think in Terms of Age. Think in Terms of Options

“Whole generations of people of retirement age enjoying all kinds of adventurous activities that would have seemed very strange in the past. Older people are often very active, want to explore, learn new things, start new businesses, support new organizations. And even though they may not actually do all the things they think about doing, they want to know the possibility is there – maybe that there is a gym and a sauna at the hotel, that the resort has a couple of lively places which are open late at night and so on.” – Patrick Dixon

Tip #2: Understand Their Limitations

Patrick makes an excellent point about physical needs of this group, including poor eyesight. He points out something so simple as restaurant menus or logos on items being something that’s not easily accessible to mature men.

“Let me give you an example: in many European cities one of the main groups eating in restaurants are those over 50, yet very few 50 year olds are able to read a menu by candlelight without their reading glasses. That is because the menus are usually designed by young people in print shops not for senior citizens. What a crazy situation: the people who the restaurants want to market to cannot read any of their sales literature.” – Patrick Dixon

Tip #3: Know That Your Market Has a Higher Disposable Income

This demographic is settled in life. By now, houses and cars are usually paid off and educating children is also out of the way. They’re looking for what’s next and since they’re planners, they have a higher level of financial security than younger men looking to invest in the same markets.

Yet, as shown in the opening advertisement example here, Patrick adds that older men want to feel “cool.” They don’t want to be pictured as geriatric and they certainly will not invest in products, or experiences that they don’t identify with. An example Patrick gives is of a cruise ship marketing to older men. Typically, these businesses have photos of families and mothers, but this no older man would feel at home there. Go for glamour instead.

My tip, channel old Hollywood and ask yourself what would Steve McQueen be into right now? What would appeal to him? That right there is your target market and the spirit of your audience.