The seniors of the 21st century are very different from those of past generations. Instead of going gently into that good night, aging baby boomers are gearing up for the next fabulous phase of their lives. This requires staying fit and healthy enough to chase their grandchildren, travel the world or simply keep up with their peers on the golf course.
Active lifestyles plus disposable income makes seniors ideal candidates for hot tub and spa purchases. Retailers just have to know how to focus their marketing techniques to appeal to this potentially profitable demographic.
Seek and ye shall find
It would be so nice if the mere act of opening your doors would cause throngs of senior citizens to line up for hot tubs. But it takes a bit of legwork to attract business. When it comes to seniors, it’s best to go where they go.
Chad Higgens, co-owner of WCI Pools & Spas in Ames, Iowa, targets the senior set by having a presence at certain home shows each year. At these shows, he notes, seniors often attend during weekday afternoons, while the larger target market is at work. It’s a great opportunity to get in front of this market, he says.
Seniors who spend their days on the golf course or lobbing balls on the tennis courts are another demographic worth seeking. “We try to target active seniors,” says Margaret Bell, owner of Adventure Hot Tubs & Pools in Sarasota, Fla. “They’re golfing and they’re playing tennis at the community centers.”
Adventure Hot Tubs often has a presence at charity golf tournaments. It has been known to place brochures inside goodie bags that are given away at the tournaments, and has even supplied branded golf tees. Because of these efforts, Bell says, seniors coming fresh off a round of golf or a tennis match often come into the store looking for ways to soothe aching muscles.
Many senior citizens in Bell’s community also like to support the city’s performing arts. Therefore, anyone flipping through a program at an evening performance of Cats or A Chorus Line in Sarasota will likely find an advertisement for Adventure Hot Tubs.
Higgins considers senior citizens as a target for all its marketing, however there is one medium that he uses solely to attract this crowd — magazine advertising, specifically in local lifestyle publications catering to an older demographic.
On the showroom floor
Once seniors enter your store, certain strategies should be used to close the deal.
First and foremost pay special attention to how the store is laid out. Are the hot tubs pushed close together, or is there room for people in wheelchairs, scooters or walkers to pass?
“Lots of places just stack 20 hot tubs in a row like little soldiers in a line,” says Jarrett Dahlberg, hot tub division manager at Presidential Pools Spas & Patio in Gilbert, Ariz.
The company makes sure to place the product in easy-to-navigate aisles. But Presidential goes a step further, displaying the hot tubs on stands where they can be positioned at a 45-degree angle. This makes it easier for those in wheelchairs to see inside. “We have our No. 1 selling units up on those angles,” Dahlberg says.
Patio furniture is prominently placed around the hot tubs so senior patrons can sit and be comfortable while pondering what they should purchase.
Safety is a very important selling point for seniors and should be addressed on the showroom floor, Higgins notes. To assuage a senior citizen’s fear of getting stuck in the tub, WCI’s salespeople have been known to climb in and out of the tubs to illustrate their ease of use. Higgins also displays products that would appeal to seniors, such as entry steps and handrails. “I don’t know if it closes the sale, but it certainly … makes it easier to sell those accessories,” he says.
When making a presentation to seniors, it always helps to sell the wellness aspect as opposed to the fun-with-friends-and-neighbors angle. Salespeople should always discuss the benefits of hydrotherapy and how soaking in a tub can help seniors recover from sore muscles or injuries, Bell says.
One of the most important “do’s” when working with seniors on the showroom floor is actually a “don’t,”Dahlberg says.
“Don’t rush,” he warns. “They’re [in the store] on Tuesday at noon; they’re not in a rush. Take your time. Walk them through everything.”
Don’t sell them short
Whether strategizing a marketing campaign for seniors or designing the store, retailers should not assume this group has no technical savvy.
For instance, be sure to pay them a nod on websites and in social media postings. And even if baby boomers make up your primary demographic, that doesn’t mean you can ignore these new media.
In the store, it is still crucial for seniors to make sure that your Wi-Fi is firing on all cylinders. Remember, seniors these days are very internet-savvy and, like everybody else, they often bring their iPads and iPhones with them when they shop.
“I’ve had customers in the store [who] don’t want to talk to our sales staff [because they’re] … look[ing] at the unit online,” says Dahlberg. They’ll often click around the web to view the tub in various colors, he says. He emphasizes that the seniors he comes in contact with tend to have a lot of money and are likely purchasing their second or third hot tub. They often already have one at their primary residence and may now need one for their vacation home. So they know how to comparison shop in the modern age.