As the U.S. population ages, businesses in the health and wellness industry are starting to recognize older consumers as a new and emerging market.
Census data has indicated that the number of Boomers (ages 55 to 73) and seniors (age 74 and over) in the United States stood at approximately 95 million last year, and many of the chronic ailments they face – joint pain, muscle aches, trouble sleeping – are ailments that the CBD industry aims to tackle.
“It’s a very viable market,” said Jackie Berg, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Michigan-based CBD Marketing Hub. “It absolutely represents a growth area for CBD companies, but not all companies leverage it very well.”
What should be the top-of-mind considerations for CBD brands that are keen to reach the 55+ population with their products? Hemp Industry Daily took a hard look at recent data and spoke with the industry’s top marketing experts to distill five best practices in marketing CBD to seniors.
1) Focus on education and customer support to win over potential customers and keep current customers loyal.
Marketing experts agree that educating the older population about the potential benefits of cannabidiol should be a pillar of any good senior outreach and advertising campaign.
Cannabis market research firm High Yield Insights surveyed 13,500 consumers aged 56 and older who have not used a CBD product but expressed interest in trying one, and the following were the top barriers or concerns preventing them from making a purchase:
- “I’d like to get a recommendation from a physical or mental health provider.” (46%)
- “I don’t know how effective it is.” (43%)
- “I don’t know about the long-term effects.” (34%)
- “I’m confused by the products available.” (29%)
- “I don’t know how safe it is.” (29%)
- “I’m concerned it might interfere with other medications.” (29%)
A company’s ability to answer these questions in a straightforward way will equip older consumers with what they need to make an informed purchase. The educational opportunity doesn’t end with the closing of the sale, however.
The most successful brands with older consumers are “those companies who support seniors via their call center or customer service center for questions,” Berg said.
“They want to be educated and understand,” Berg said. “Be there to support them.”
2) Seek brand advocates in physicians and friends and family.
When it comes to product messaging, seniors are “overwhelmingly likely to gravitate toward word of mouth,” and brands should not underestimate “the halo that’s granted to information … from existing, trusted sources,” said Mike Luce, president of High Yield Insights.
A High Yield Insights survey of more than 1,000 Boomer and senior CBD users showed that respondents found health providers (57%) and friends and family (53%) the most trustworthy sources of information.
“[As a senior,] I’m far more likely to trust information from someone that’s close to me,” Luce said. “I’m going to be far less reticent in speaking to people with that halo, and the most pronounced example of that is the physician or health provider that you’re already seeing.”
Berg noted that the children of older consumers can also play a pivotal role in convincing a parent to try CBD for what’s ailing them.
“Seniors often rely on their children,” she said. The Boomer generation can therefore “become influencers in regard to their product choices.”
Luce agreed: “If brands can create brand champions and brand advocates that are … influencers within (seniors’) circles, that is a huge force multiplier.”
3) Don’t succumb to senior stereotypes.
Research by CBD Marketing Hub indicates that older shoppers want to be respected, and that messaging that depicts seniors as inactive, sedentary or aging poorly should be avoided.
“Seniors look at themselves as aspirational,” Berg said. “Even if they’re not active, they do want to get back to that lifestyle.”
Companies should keep this mind when choosing marketing language and imagery, Berg said. Older consumers react far more positively to a picture of a senior smiling at the top of a mountain than to one smiling in a park with a cane, she said.
4) Design packaging with clear language on testing, indications, dosage and ingredients.
Survey data from Nielsen Global Connect indicates that more than 11,000 consumers aged 65 and older who were likely to purchase hemp-CBD products rank the following factors most important when deciding what products to buy:
- No pesticides or herbicides used (51.5%)
- Lab tested and/or certified (43.3%)
- Produced from hemp (37.4%)
- The quality of hemp used (35.3%)
High Yield Insights data on packaging preferences indicates that guidance on product dosage and usage was a major priority for older consumers when purchasing a CBD product. The top four responses from more than 1,000 older consumers surveyed included:
- Clear usage and dosing instructions (60%)
- Ingredient and nutrition labeling (47%)
- Easy to open packaging (38%)
- Easy dosing (individually wrapped, etc.) (35%)
In developing the right product messaging, it’s important to keep in mind why older consumers are turning to CBD as their therapy of choice.
A solid majority of respondents to the High Yield Insights survey said they were taking a CBD product to treat some kind of chronic pain: More than two-thirds said they used cannabidiol to treat joint pain or arthritis while more than half said periodic or chronic muscle pain was the cause:
- Chronic joint pain or arthritis (69%)
- Periodic or chronic muscle pain (55%)
- Anxiety or stress (42%)
- Insomnia or sleeplessness (38%)
- Depression or low mood (26%)
5) Don’t dismiss new product formats.
It’s true that older consumers who use a CBD product tend to favor ingestible products and topicals: Survey data from High Yield Insights showed that 55% of current user respondents used tinctures, oils and/or gummies when taking CBD, and another 42% used bath and body products such as skin creams and bath bombs.
The flip side to that, Luce said, is that survey respondents also showed an openness to trying CBD in new formats:
- 41% of respondents said they would be open to trying food-related products like chocolates or beverages.
- 31% said they would be open to purchasing CBD products for their pets.
Nielsen data presented in Hemp Industry Daily‘s “How to Navigate the Complicated World of CBD in Retail” report indicated even greater interest in emerging CBD product categories:
- 56% of Boomers and 50% of seniors surveyed said they had never consumed a CBD beverage but would consider doing so.
- 65% of Boomers and 62% of seniors surveyed said they would consider trying CBD capsules.
Monica Raymunt can be reached at [email protected]