Thursday, April 17, 2014

3 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Tech-based Senior/Boomer Product

First, the mantra: It's not about technology. It's about people and solving their problems.

Over and over again, I talk to folks who are creating the next-big-tech-thing for the boomer or senior market. And, many times, these very nice folks have not thought through the difficulties in creating or selling to a market they don't truly understand.

Answering these three questions can give you some clarity.

What do people need? What are people already buying?
Yes, I know. They NEED your product. But, do they really? Have you asked them if they need it? What do they say when you tell them about your product? Have you tried it out and had success?  If your product doesn't fit a need, it will be hard to sell. Defining the need versus want aspect of your product is imperative. Here's an example. Seniors generally need a pillbox. But you have to make them want your electronic version because it does X,Y or Z that makes it something important to them or makes replacing the status-quo reasonable.
If you are trying to launch a new industry segment, beware. Reality bites. Yes, your new gadget may solve a big problem. If it is health related, people may think it should be covered by insurance (most are not) and won't purchase it if it isn't. If it is lifestyle related, it won't be purchased if it is perceived as an "old person" product.  You will not only have to sell the product but you have to sell the concept of the product as well -- complications that are expensive.

Do you really know your target? 
Look at these words. Which ones fit your target user?
  • Frail, weak, sick, memory-impaired
  • Needs help with activities of daily living
  • Healthy, active, busy, engaged
  • Family-oriented, pets, grandchildren
  • Isolated, sad, depressed
  • Poor, lower income, median fixed income, generous income
  • Lives at home, at a senior facility 
  • Boomers born between 1946 and 1964  
  • AARP members are 50+, average age 69, more info
  • Senior deals can start at 55, 60 or 65 or 80 if you are a skier
Who will make the purchase decision?
If your product is designed for the aged, infirm market, the purchase decision is normally made by an adult child - the person who is the default caregiver. Here is a great infographic on caregivers.
If your product is designed for people in senior living facilities, your product must fit into the existing workflow, solve a problem, have tangible benefits and have history or solid ongoing support and reliability.
If your product is purchased by healthy older adults, lucky you. But remember, they are people, just like everyone else, and expect to be treated as such and find your product where they normally shop.
Now, that you've thought about who will make the decision, you need to figure out how to reach them. Are they buying your product in an emergency (mom fell and is getting out of the hospital)? Ask your potential customers where they'd expect to buy this product. Don't forget about online sales either direct or though eBay or Amazon.