Targeting: It Goes Beyond Data

By | July 9, 2013

When we think about targeting and personalization, we think about data. But what about messaging? The way your messaging gets framed, including the nuances of the language you use, can make or break your campaign.

Here is a case in point.  A recent survey conducted by found that terms used to describe people aged 50+ are increasingly outdated and offensive by this audience. Most respondents (71%) were comfortable with the term “Baby Boomer,” but only 49% approved of the term “senior.” Nearly half (44.2%) felt that the terms “senior living” and “retirement community” were outdated.

Even worse was the term “nursing home,” which 94% of respondents had very negative associations, and of all the terms presented, had the worst association. Much more effective, the survey found, was language that emphasized health and activity.

So if the traditional terms used in this demographic are now offensive, what terms do you use? Something else! That’s the point. Successful targeting is not just knowing that someone is in the 50+ age demographic. It’s also knowing the style of messaging that is going to be most effective (or not).

What was particularly amusing about this survey, however, was that it was conducted by . . . ironic when the term “senior” was found to be offensive to 49% of the people surveyed!

Just goes to show you how easy it is to fall behind the trends of changing language.

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