How To Diffuse Denial When Marketing to Seniors

If you are marketing to seniors you probably struggle with how to help a senior who needs your products or services when they won’t admit to their need.  And also, how do you overcome the emotional turmoil felt by their adult children who could influence a positive decision?

I learned about overcoming denial when I was trying to accomplish something completely different. As marketing manager at Electric Mobility, I conducted hundreds of market research interviews with seniors and family caregivers. Generally I was asking them about their thoughts on products such as mobility scooters, lift chairs, bathroom safety products and more. I wanted to discover what they liked and didn’t like.

marketing lift chairs to seniors I recruited people for interviews who admitted during a telephone screening interview that they could only walk a few steps or had difficulty getting out of a chair. In other words, people who could benefit from the products I was researching.

But a strange thing happened. When they met me for their in-person interviews, many would claim they had no need for a mobility scooter to help them move around, or a lift chair to help them get up. DENIAL.   However, as I continued to probe into how they managed their lives without these assistive aids, I discovered how they had rationalized to themselves that they had “no need.”

For example, Mary, a mature woman said she did not need a scooter when she went shopping because she could simply rest on the bench in the mall while her family shopped. When asked if she would prefer to continue shopping with her family, she said “yes.”

After a series of questions, Mary started to understand how much she had redesigned her life in order “not to need” the mobility scooter. By the end of the interview, she was sold on the product even though I was not trying to sell anything.   Because of discussions like this, I became convinced that by engaging seniors and caregivers in a conversation that is more about listening than telling, you can softly reveal to them how they have constrained their lives by not taking advantage of services and products designed to help them.

You can also build intimacy and trust. This process helps to break through denial. Once you overcome this barrier, you can help a senior to help themselves.


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