Three tips to keep in mind

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The fear is always present. Marketers balk at targeting the mature market, worried their product will be labeled an "old people's brand." What marketers need to do is train their 29-year-old brand managers how to walk in the shoes of 59-year-old customers.

Here are three basic marketing rules that marketers can apply when targeting the mature market.

1. Get to know the customer. Today's retirees do not retire, they redirect their talent. Their life is not purely shopping, golfing or watching TV. Today's retirees have full calendars that include new careers, volunteering, travel and hobbies.

2. Use visual situations that reflect the way this age group lives.

Throw out images of the gray-haired couple or golf carts. Show mixed groups of friends, not necessarily couples. Use intergenerational concepts that show grandparents with grandchildren, such as those in Nautica and Banana Republic ads. Portray an ageless model that leaves one guessing if she is 44 or a well preserved 61.

3. Use images and copy that resonate. Legibility does not mean large, bold type, which can be offensive. White space and slightly larger type will suffice. Replace golf carts with bicycles, hiking trails and sneakers, all of which suggest vitality.

Use words like "growth," "first" and "now." Personal growth, financial growth, hair growth, muscle growth are what aging people want. They also want to experience firsts: first sports car, first cross-country trip, first grandchild. Call-to-action words such as "now," "begin" and "start" subtly suggest doing things while one still can. Words like "fast" and "instantly," which suggest speed and frenzy, do not connect to an audience that wants to do things at a more reasonable pace.

Candace Cortlett is CEO of WSL Strategic Retail, a consultancy that offers a one-day sensitivity training seminar geared to crack stereotypes about the 50-plus consumer.

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