A large majority of the elderly are women, most of whom are widowed, and many of whom live by themselves. However, most elderly men are married and live with their wives. Household size of older prospects is much smaller than for other groups in the population because their children have grown up and moved away, and because many of them are widowed. For example, more than 73 percent of all households in which the head is over 65 consist of only one or two individuals. Contrary to the general impressions, very few of the American elderly live in homes for the aged. Only 3 percent of men and 5 percent of women are in such arrangements. The percentage of men and women living as dependent other relatives in family groups may also be lower than commonly believed (7 percent and 17 percent respectively).
Income: People over 50 comprise a market worth almost $ 900 billion. An economic profile of the mature market is presented in Table. The picture of the average senior citizen as poor, entirely dependent on social security who is much worse off than the general population and than when he or she was working is very outdated, as shown by this profile. Slightly over 12 percent of the 65 and over population is classified at the poverty level, but the proportion is little higher than that for all adults. Thus, a very significant number of elderly persons live at comfortable levels of income. In fact average income per household member for the elderly is higher than for the young. In addition, the net worth (assets minus, liabilities) of households aged 65 to 74 is approximately 2.3 times that of the median household in the United States.
Even there the incomes of elderly may be low these incomes are often able to go farther than those of younger customers because of fewer obligations. For example, there may be no children to educate, clothe, or support; work related expenses are curtailed double exemptions are granted on income tax returns, Medicare helps pay for medical expenses an three fourths of the aged own their own homes with 84 percent of these homes being mortgage free.
Some workers can look forward to perhaps 30 years in retirement with incomes at approximately the same level as their pre-retirement after taxes income. This market will in the future be one with even more discretionary income and more ways to spend it, because the problem of security is taken off the individual’s shoulders and placed in the hands of bodies beyond ourselves such as the government, insurance, pensions and the like.
The segment aged 55 and over has in many cases a different set of activities, interests and opinions from those of younger groups. However, older consumers do not all share the same attributes or patterns. For example some of their patterns may involve a tendency toward seasonal migration to warm climates, earlier bedtimes, less physical activity, more leisure time activities, and positive identification with their age, shunning the public’s sometimes negative stereotype. Actually our opinions in America bout when getting old occurs are shifting as we age 40 percent of people over 60 say old is over 75. People over 60 commonly say they feel ten years younger. This subjective age, or how old we feel, is related to health hold financial conditions. It has also been shown that the way in which senior citizens adjust to old age provides a useful classification system for differentiating market segments among them. This in turn leads to more appropriate strategies for marketing to these segments.
As a result of such factors as these, variety of segmentation approaches for the older market has been offered. A review of thirty three segmentation studies in the mature market found that five key variables were used: (1) discretionary income (2) health, (3) activity level, (4) discretionary time, and (5) response to others. There are wide variations within each of these variables. Consequently, older consumers are a divergent group. It is important to realize, however, that chronological age is not the best way to understand consumer need. Because older adults play many different roles and exist in variety of conditions, marketers must relate effectively to selected target groups by thoroughly understanding them.