Many restaurants focus their marketing efforts on young people. College-aged adults love happy hour, and young families can bring in decent margins. However it is important to not pass up on the chance to effectively market to an oft-neglected category of diners that can bring in large revenue gains, senior citizens.
In the next 20 years, the population is expected to grow by 60 million people. Economists suggest that half of that growth will include people over the age of 65 [Source]. With the baby boomer population aging each year, it's time to consider how to market to a growing number of people who are older, wiser and retired.
Marketing in the restaurant has a lot to do with demographics. When you have information about people in your surrounding area, you have the power to advertise and communicate more effectively to get those people in the door.
Why Market to Old Folks
People are living longer than ever, meaning there are more “old” people than ever. In fact, census data shows that people living to 90 and older has tripled in the past thirty years. This puts the total of U.S. population in this age category at two million people [Source].
Although people this age most likely will not be the ones coming to your restaurant, senior citizens are a worthy marketing segment. Here are a few reasons why:
The Population is Growing. Population growth includes aging adults. The near future will bring many new retirees. In many cases, it’s more logical to capture and keep this customer base than to market only to young people and family.
Retirees Have the Money. Generally speaking, retirees are at a point in their lives when they are able to begin cashing our their pensions and retirement plans. Aging adults may have the disposable cash to use at their favorite restaurant, but it’s up to you to become the favorite.
Even Senior Citizens like Having Fun. Some senior citizens are in their prime when it comes to socializing. Many want to enjoy their retirement by trying new things, traveling and dining out. Cater to their needs by offering them respect, good food, and a comfortable place to gather.
Tips for Marketing Your Restaurant to Senior Citizens
In the coming decades, senior citizens will occupy a larger percentage of the population. Learn a few tips for marketing effectively to this customer segment.
Offer a Senior Discount. Many establishments offer discounts to senior citizens because it’s proven to work. According to a recent study by the National Restaurant Association, about two thirds of adults aged 55 and older said that they would take advantage of a senior citizen discount if it were offered.
Promote Early Bird Specials. Offer a discount to diners during the early evening. Some restaurateurs discount up to 50% off before 6:00 PM. Not only will this appeal to thrifty retirees, but also to frugal families and young couples [Source].
Mind Portion Sizes. For this segment of the population, portion size is not the determining factor when it comes to getting a good deal. In fact, the National Restaurant Association suggests that only one third of people over the age of 65 thought larger portions meant a better deal [Source].
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