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Worried about how you, your brand and your products look to consumers?  When marketing to Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation, keep in mind that many of your targets won’t notice whether the flourish on your logo is to the left or right … because they’re dealing with vision loss.

And it’s not just my 97-year-old Nana who’s relying on magnifiers to read the paper. Roughly 1 of every 28 Americans over 40 is affected by blindness or low vision.

Vision Loss and Aging Baby Boomers

We’re talking about 40-year-old men holding your menu at arm’s length because the lens of the eye struggles to focus (presbyopia).  Or 60-year-women with computer vision syndrome (more Baby Boomers associate eyesight problems with screen time than any other group).

The statistics on aging, eye diseases and vision loss are sobering. 6.5 million Americans over the age of 65 have a severe vision impairment, and that number is expected to “boom” in coming years.

As Camille Sweeney of The Chicago Tribune reported:

With the last of the Baby Boomers turning 45 this year, experts in the eye care industry say the potential for the presbyopia correction market is huge.

Dave Harmon, president of Market Scope eye care research company, said 85 million Americans have presbyopia; 35 million of them wear reading glasses; 16 million wear multifocal or monovision contact lenses; and 34 million wear bifocals or multifocal spectacles.

This translates into a lot of people searching for other optical options.

It should translate into a lot of marketers looking at their designs and customer touch-points to be sure they’re accessible (without going overboard).

Eyes Change as We Age, How About Design?

Even without an eye disease, research shows that three key changes take place in our eyes as we age:

* The lens yellows. It becomes harder to distinguish blues, greens and purples.

* The lens absorbs more light, leaving less light available for seeing.

* It becomes harder to handle glare.

So …. What can marketers do?  Here are some general design guidelines for the actively aging, mature consumer.

1. Make fonts a little larger for readability.

2. Choose those fonts wisely – condensed and excessively swirly fonts are tough to read at any age.

3. Use images – verbal memory declines faster than visual memory as we age, so photos are a powerful way to tell a story.  For more on what photography is most effective with 40+ consumers (from GenX to Baby Boomers to seniors), download our free eBook.

4. Don’t use high gloss papers when printing.  Consider dull coats to minimize glare.

5. Consider ways to make your sales center/retail experience easier to navigate for all.  The Wall Street Journal reports that Walgreens is improving aisle signs, Rite Aid is using bigger type on its packaging and Family Dollar is considering their lighting.

6. Don’t clutter up your website.  Make navigation clear and easy to understand.  (Heck, that web design guideline has no age limit.)

7. Add text-sizing tools to your website.  In addition to being helpful, these tools give your users control over what they see and how.  Control is a good message to send, since 75% of us are deeply concerned that severe vision loss would take away our independence.

50+ers (Baby Boomers and beyond) account for 45% of all US consumer spending.  And people buy what they see.  Are you doing what you can to help mature consumers see your marketing clearly?

About The Author

Erin Read

For nearly 13 years, Erin Read spearheaded integrated and digital marketing programs for Creating Results' clients. She directed and co-authored four national studies/eBooks (Photo Finish and three editions of Social, Silver Surfers) and served as the principal blogger for Mature Marketing Matters. Now a consultant to the agency, Erin is leveraging her expertise in marketing to baby boomers and seniors while tackling new challenges. Find her on LinkedIn .