Leveraging the “Original Social Network” by Marketing to Seniors’ Adult Children

An emerging marketing strategy for generating leads for senior living communities doesn’t just consider age-eligible demographics—it leverages a variety of variables, including family connections and primary decision makers, to broaden the pool of prospective consumers.

The senior living industry has been well aware of the adult child’s influence in the decision-making process, but tactically, there hasn’t been enough market data to do anything about it, says Paul Bennett, a sales executive at Acxiom Corporation, a consumer analytics and marketing firm headquartered in Little Rock, Ark.

“The industry needs new ways of identifying high-propensity, high-quality prospects with a reason to migrate closer to your community,” he says. “There’s a natural affinity for seniors to move back toward the influencer, and it can turn local marketers into precise national marketers.”


His company’s “Family Ties” product may hold the key: It’s a comprehensive database of consumer information that allows marketers to look at the interaction of relevant variables and get a better picture of a consumer, including, perhaps, whether or not that consumer has an elderly parent in another location.

Exploring generational linkage, including the geographic location and income of adult children, among other factors, can be much more effective than only considering dense populations of age- and income-qualified seniors.

“We’re trying to leverage the original social network and create a conversation between family members,” Bennett says.


Traditionally, senior living communities have “always been good at local marketing,” he says, and know about the nearby seniors. But it’s hard to guess if there are adult children nearby. Once marketers are equipped with knowledge of generational linkage, it can open up a whole new lane of travel. Senior living communities could market to local seniors, and to distant ones—through local adult children decision makers.

“They can [market] to distant seniors, because we’ve proven they migrate back to their adult children,” he says.

Acxiom has worked with many top-20 CCRC developers and primarily works with independent living communities, along with some assisted living, and anecdotally, Bennett says, his clients are “regularly surprised at the size of the segment of [senior living] residents that didn’t come from nearby.”

That’s a trend Care.com, an online resource that connects families with caregivers, has seen as well.

“People are most interested in location, particularly when it’s the elderly parent moving near the adult child,” says Scott Healy, executive vice president of marketing and general manager at Care.com. He says the main reason for the senior to move closer is to be a part of their children and grandchildren’s lives.

In fact, when it’s adult children helping their parents find a senior housing option, they look for housing in the state where they (the adult child) reside 86% of the time, says Healy of Care.com users.

The nature of the linkage between seniors and their adult children is proprietary, though, Bennett says, and his company doesn’t give clients the names of both linked parties. “We might say, there’s a related senior in this location, but you can’t sell both the senior and the child’s information,” he says, adding that their practice is to just share the knowledge that a relationship exists.

“Clients are noticeably upping their games in terms of the analytics they’re using for prospecting and lead generating,” Bennett says. “Analytic rigor is increasing; it’s smarter targeting, and smarter lead prioritization.”

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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