The 'Four Faces of the New Senior'

Conifer I

My mentor, David B. Wolfe, created a powerful way to look at the Boomer and older adult market. His conceptual framework, ”The Four Faces of the New Senior” serves as a way for marketing and sales associates to view the older customer in a much more positive light, and produce more effective marketing and advertising messages.

It counteracts the commonly-used visuals of seniors sitting, reading books and playing golf used in many retirement community promotions. It creates a way to show older adults as much more active, empowered, independent, successful and highly satisfied with life and does so in a more relevant way.

The best use of the concept may be on the front end of creating a marketing communications campaign. Or, it may be used in critiquing existing communications and tweaking them to improve them.

The Four Faces from Wolfe’s book, Serving the Ageless Market, are:

  1. Creativity and intellectual involvement
  2. Experience and wisdom and the desire to share it
  3. Vitality and productivity
  4. Compassion for others and the world around them

Creativity and Intellectual Involvement. Older people like to learn. They like to learn about themselves. They like to learn about others. And they just like to learn in general. They read. They surf the internet in growing numbers. They travel to expand their intellectual horizons. They go back to colleges and universities in record numbers. Show how your community helps them do so.

Experience and Wisdom and the Desire to Share Them. Find ways show your residents sharing their wisdom with others. Picture them with people of a younger generation. Show them in classroom settings or organized learning groups. Picture them painting landscapes, writing a novel or teaching young people.

Vitality and Productivity. Most older people want to produce something of value which is a route to greater self-esteem and personal aspirations. Try to find a better way to show them in your community settings. Depicting typical leisure and recreational activities may need some tweaking. One national study showed that 80% of seniors felt there was too much emphasis of recreation in the marketing of senior communities. Be creative in producing visuals that touch the heart.


Compassion for Others and the World Around Them. Your community residents are this nation’s best citizens. They vote at a rate much higher than other generations. They are patriotic and proud of the country’s heritage. They are heavily involved in good works, more so than the rest of the population. Boomers and seniors contribute far more on average than other generations in donations and financial giving no non-profit organizations. Why? Because they care more. Always remember that family, theirs and others, is very important to them. Find ways to send family-friendly messages about your community.