Seniors Getting Younger All The Time

Discussion
May 13, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


The nation is getting older but the definition of senior citizen keeps getting younger. Although many Americans are now choosing to work past the “retirement age” of 65, consumers can start receiving some of the perks of “old age” as young as 50.


Today, those reaching their fiftieth birthday qualify to become members of AARP and gain access to discounts and other benefits from over 75 businesses approved by the group. According to a Knight Ridder News Service report, more than 2,000 businesses annually apply to AARP every year with the hopes of gaining access to the organization’s 35 million members.


Moderator’s Comment: Has it become almost standard practice for companies serving consumers 50+ to offer age-related discounts? Are the companies that
don’t at a competitive disadvantage?


It turns out that some 50-year olds are reluctant to take advantage of the deals being offered. To those people, Joan Rattner Heilman, the author of Unbelievably
Good Deals
, has a few words of advice: ‘Snap out of it — and start saving.’

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "Seniors Getting Younger All The Time"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 9 months ago
Surely someone will correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the US is the only country offering such a wide range of discounts to groups of consumers. For this reason, I believe, most Americans have come to expect discounts and deals and promotions and are always willing to negotiate prices. It seems to them yet another inalienable right. Personally, and I am almost afraid to admit this publicly, it makes me cringe. It feels greedy and undeserved. If prices can be so easily manipulated, why on earth are they high in the first place? Why are any particular groups (apart from those with low incomes) more deserving of discounts than others? I can see that seniors who are living on social security and/or pensions probably fall into the low income/needy category. Which makes lowering the age limit even more hypocritical and arbitrary. None of this is an issue in the UK. Senior discounts start at age 60 and even then they are few and far between. Primarily travel and entertainment as far as I… Read more »
Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

I’ve always felt that the AARP was unnaturally extending the definition of “senior” to beef up their membership, and now that I approach the 50-year mark, I have to say I’m downright resentful at the implication. Over-50’s, if I’m not mistaken, account for about 27% of the U.S. population. That’s a huge, diverse group and I think AARP’s over-inclusiveness has resulted in an image problem. If they want my membership, they’ll wait until I’m about 80 to start sending solicitations.

Calling 50-year olds “seniors” is just poor marketing, in my opinion. With life expectancies increasing, can’t we come up with another grouping for say the 50 to 75 year olds? Most are not retired. How about “Junior Seniors”? Ugh, that’s even worse : (

Tom McGoldrick
Guest
Tom McGoldrick
15 years 9 months ago

I have always wondered at Sr. discounts for people in their 50’s. Most people’s income peaks somewhere in their 50’s or 60’s. They certainly have more disposable income than people who are early in their career with young children.

Some retailers are now offering preferred parking for parents with young children. Maybe we need a similar young family discount program.

Not that this will stop me from using the AARP discount in a couple of years when I turn 50.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

Rick, when I went to overnight camp back in the ’50s, they divided us all up, by age, into Juniors, Middlers and Seniors. You are hereby, by my decree, evermore a “Middler.” I love AARP. Wish I could have joined when I was still a Junior.

Jan Bone
Guest
Jan Bone
15 years 9 months ago

As an active 74-year-old who’s still teaching and will be in fall ’05, I like all the save-money discounts I can get! Restaurants with discounts, grocery stores with 10% off on Tuesdays, rental car/hotel/travel benefits with AARP-card discounts, water bill discounts and vehicle sticker discounts free from my Chicago suburb government, low-cost senior bus dial-a-ride transportation and free taxi vouchers for discounts from my township government… Money saved is money I can spend for more fun things in life!

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

Hey, I take every nickel. I cannot imagine why you wouldn’t, and was surprised, as I posted this, to see that 43% said they would not take advantage of these discounts. Perhaps it was just early in the cycle of responses. A competitive disadvantage? Well, maybe for hotels. I always check for senior discounts there. But I’m just not aware of that many retailers doing a whole lot with senior discounts. Some offer it on a weekday morning or afternoon, and it’s just not worth upsetting my schedule to go out and save $1.38. But if I were retired (never happen, at this rate) and on a fixed income, I suppose it would be important. I cringe to say it, but many of the customers who do go out and try to save that $1.38 are cherry pickers, and I’d be looking to see how profitable it would be to encourage them, via discounts, to shop my stores.

Sid Raisch
Guest
Sid Raisch
15 years 9 months ago

Wealthy Wednesdays have been my pet peeve. My big beef with senior discounts is that companies cannot afford to give up that much money, and they have to be raising prices on the rest of us to subsidize wealthy seniors.

I have always made a good deal more money than my father-in-law, until he retired. Now I resent that he gets discounts while I have to pay full price for my family when we’re out together.

If you’re not a senior, complain about the unfair discounts and how you are being forced to subsidize what the sellers give away to people who can afford to spend more. Maybe the merchants will get the message.

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 9 months ago

Tom is right about the relative affluence of the 50 – 65 crowd. But that’s exactly why marketers focus on them. “Senior” isn’t an age or even a state of mind, it’s a target market, plain and simple. The discounts offered are bids for wallet share from the one group of people who really have discretionary income to spend. Entry-level seniors are still relatively active. Many are empty-nesters who are still working. If I ran a business that focused on leisure activities, travel for pleasure or gift-giving, I’d do all I could to attract and keep free-spending younger seniors, and that would include “senior” discounts, however disingenuous.

Arlene Jones
Guest
Arlene Jones
15 years 9 months ago

As the majority of baby boomers hit their early 60s, I think the age will soon creep back up. However, in the meantime, I want the list of retailers that are giving discounts for 50+. I want to save every dime I can!

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 9 months ago
I never was able to figure out why companies want to give seniors a discount. Most of them are wealthily collecting social security, pensions (sometimes multiple), taking funds from IRAs, 401ks, personal investments, they usually have their house paid for, and the IRS gives them extra tax breaks. Many have recently inherited their own parents’ estates. This is probably the most affluent group in our society and companies want to find ways of not getting full price from them. Most are bored out of their minds. Go to any casino and you will find it packed to the rafters with senior citizens machine-gunning dollars as fast as they can into slot machines because they have nothing else to do with their excess cash. I don’t think companies are at too much of a disadvantage by not offering discounts. Usually the companies I see offering the discounts are those struggling to get customers anyway. Today, one of my friends who works at a military base that will be closed has announced his retirement at age 46.… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 9 months ago
I’ve been north of 50 for a few years, and I’ve never encountered a senior discount, asked for a senior discount, been offered a senior discount, or observed a senior discount being offered to or used by others. I’m either clueless or living in a cave, or both (according to my kids). But, I never factor a “senior discount” into my purchasing decisions. Perhaps I should. Rick Moss wrote it best, “Calling 50-year olds ‘seniors’ is just poor marketing.” Senior discounts originated decades ago when seniors (defined as 50+ when life expectancy was lower) represented a population percentage in the ‘teens and senior family members made purchasing decisions for the entire family. That was then, this is now. Now, seniors represent a much larger percentage of our population and the wisdom of senior discounts is more questionable than ever: 1.) A growing segment of retail customers will qualify for senior discounts, thus negatively affecting retail margins, 2.) Seniors are an expanding population segment and have significant discretionary income, perhaps positively affecting retail sales and, 3.)… Read more »
Jan Owens
Guest
Jan Owens
15 years 9 months ago

As an early-fifties Baby Boomer, I feel sheepish taking an over-fifty discount. This tactic was intended to attract a price-sensitive group on a fixed income. Today, we all know that this is not the best characterization of the senior market. Many over-fifties are at the peak of their earning years, and many seniors are far better off financially than other cohort groups.

That said, it is kind of like tax breaks — you are welcome to take what is legally yours. Even so, the only ones that I may take them up on are the meaningful discounts, e.g. bigger money. In contrast, most museums need visitors to pay a fair share, which I don’t define as age-based.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Will you, or did you, take advantage of senior discounts when you turn/turned 50?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...