Marketing to Seniors

Our eyes aren’t what they used to be. As we age our eyes begin to change. While a range of health concerns can contribute to the loss of acuity such as smoking and diabetes the biggest contributor is age. Pupils become noticeably smaller and corneas begin to yellow and darken. 50+ year-old eyes are more susceptible to cataracts and fields of vision can shrink by as much as 30%.

Research published in Optometry and Visual Science, the journal of the American Academy of Optometry published findings detailing the loss of color filtering in those over the age of 65. Almost half of the study participants in their seventies and 60%+ of those in their nineties confused pale colors in the blue-green spectrum. Blues and greens were more difficult to tell apart than yellows, reds, and oranges. This is largely attributed to the yellowing of the lens. They are especially susceptible to glare yet require as much as four times the amount of ambient light to see clearly.

One case in point; Triad Group had created and presented a direct mail campaign targeting Medicare eligibles to our health plan client. The client loved the concept but wanted to make some color changes.  The main colors were exchanged with black text over yellow graphics.  A color study reinforced the initial design. While the bold new look was appealing to the client, the black on yellow solution was a big no-no for their audience. Colors is one of several important graphic elements to consider when designing creative for the Medicare audience.

Integrated Design for The Mature Audiences
Accounting for these deficiencies in the over-65 marketspaces is a no-brainer. The Baby Boomers represent 44% of the US population, and in the next 4 years, they’re projected to hold 70% of US disposable income and buy 49% of total consumer-packaged goods. A completely integrated design specifically tailored to a senior population should be a top priority for designers and agencies. Yet, a study of 122 designers shows this isn’t happening. Designing for an aging population has become less of a priority for Art Directors and Designers especially in the healthcare space.

Jared Spool, the American writer, researcher and usability expert, once said: “Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.” When a mature client has to put on glasses to read, holds a marketing piece in the light, or discards it outright the design has failed. Failing to design with accessibility in mind leads to poor marketing outcomes.

So What Color Schemes Work?
Using brighter, saturated pastels can help compensate for the loss of acuity. Take note that if the colors are too soft they will begin to muddle. Reds and shades of orange can spark feelings of energy and vitality. Nursing home studies have repeatedly shown that warm peach tones, terracotta, and coral balance nicely against soft blues and greens. Something that is easy to miss in the design process for the Elderly is the sheen of the paper used. A high sheen or gloss can intensive glare which can contribute to the distortion of the color palette. Consider using a matte or flat finish.

In the months to come as Medicare campaigns are designed and developed remember than the colors used whether in print or digital can have just as much affect as the messaging.

Design Accessibility for the Elderly