The Boomers have arrived!


I recall presenting on the topic of “the next generation” at conferences as far back as two decades ago.  Even then it was clear that the Baby Boomer generation would have high expectations for more open floor plans, the ability to customize their interior spaces, floor plans with larger square footage, a variety of entry fee plans including refundable entry fee options, and an emphasis on lifestyle – wellness programs, technology, dining, and social opportunities.


Over the years I’ve had the pleasure to work with a variety of clients as they begin to consider how to serve this more exacting clientele.  A growing number of communities are beginning the process to reposition themselves – each in their own unique way – to transform their campuses and programming, incorporate technology, step up their customer service, and refine their sales and marketing strategies to embrace these higher expectations as they begin marketing to the “new consumer.”


Senior Marketing Solutions supports organizations looking to position themselves for sales and marketing success through our insight and first-hand experience with:


Design.  Today’s consumers have high expectations for modern, livable floor plans with larger square footage, high quality finishes, a choice of options and upgrades and the opportunity to customize their living spaces.


With an undergraduate degree in interior design and a graduate degree in housing resource management, I offer unique insight and perspective to marketing and repositioning project teams as they work to appeal to this new consumer.  Two such communities are Arbor Acres in Winston-Salem, NC, and The Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant in Ellicott City, MD.


Arbor Acres, which will celebrate 40 years of operation in 2020, is well-positioned to embrace the high level of customization that today’s consumers expect.  There, no two homes are alike.  Residents can expand bedrooms, add sunrooms or screened porches, and remove or add walls to tailor their home to their liking.  


During the pre-construction phase of The Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant future residents were able to customize features in most of the homes and apartments to suit their style and taste.  The community opened in early 2016 and fill-up was achieved earlier than budgeted.


For many mature communities, the most common challenge is their unit mix, which often dates to the 1980’s or before, with the majority of inventory under 1,000 square feet.  These dated floor plans can be renovated to be more open concept per today’s standard or combined to create larger units.  Well-appointed models showcase the modern livability of these homes to consumers.


Many communities with room to expand are adding hybrid models to their inventory to infuse larger inventory gradually over time or to replace outdated buildings.  Hybrids combine apartment and cottage living in a smaller quantity – usually 16 to 24 apartments per building.  One such community, Penick Village in Southern Pines, NC, is in the process of adding hybrids that feature seven floor plans ranging from one bedroom to two bedrooms with den.  Covered parking is on the ground floor and each apartment has elevator access and ample outdoor space with a patio or balcony.


Wellness.  It was more than 20 years ago while working with The Asbury Group that wellness became important to senior living.  Asbury’s cultural arts and wellness center was cutting edge at the time.  Now, most communities have dedicated wellness programming.  Mature communities, like Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster, MD, have developed more robust, and even award winning, programs that provide a competitive advantage.  Wellness is such a priority that emerging programs are incorporated in resident life from move-in.  Arbor Acres and former client  Bridgewater Retirement Community are case studies for Wellzesta – a program where every resident is provided an iPad upon move-in for communication of programs and to track their own personal wellness!


Technology.  The technological divide is narrowing, and communities like recent client Knollwood are integrating advanced technology to improve the lives of residents.  Robotics and other technology is being used to enhance socialization, entertainment, and innovative therapy!


CRMs.  A marketing team is only as strong as its database.  While CRMs – customer relationship management systems – can be an effective tool for senior living marketing teams, it is not uncommon for them to be underutilized and for teams to be inadequately trained to use them effectively.  Senior Marketing Solutions often recommends Taylor Reporting Solutions to provide database cleanup, team training and report customization. We also recommend SENIOROI Targeted Marketing to provide data appends to prospect records when key data is missing, such as age, home value, and net worth, which allows teams to more finely target their marketing efforts.


Consumer research.  Knowing your market and your competition is crucial, especially when considering expansion or repositioning.  Senior Marketing Solutions has collaborated with Gerontological Services, Inc. and Solutions Advisors for mystery shopping and competitive analysis and has served as a liaison for client consumer research projects, such as market studies, consumer surveys and focus groups, with Dixon Hughes Goodman and Brecht Associates.