According to AARP, Baby Boomers spend about $3 trillion annually and a whopping 78 percent are online, where they’re buying $7 billion in goods and services. As of 2017, they spent more time online than Millennials.
It’s likely their time spent online will continue to grow, and they have the resources to support an increasing number of online purchases. Seniors are a very marketable set with serious spending power, and about 47 million live in the United States alone. Most Boomers have healthy retirement savings and are expected to inherit $15 trillion over the next 20 years.
Yet many marketers don’t pay adequate attention to this group. According to industry data, only about 10 percent of marketing magic – sadly – is aimed at this age group. And, in some cases, the marketing dollars spent on Seniors go to waste because the message isn’t readable.
Let’s face it, age takes its toll on everyday life. Eyesight fades, and reading and interpreting imagery and colors becomes more difficult for some. Tapping a keyboard and clicking a mouse slows because of arthritic hands for others. And aches from sitting can make surfing the internet choppy.
As Bette Davis once said, “getting old ain’t for sissies.” You get the picture.
Making websites easier for seniors
Senior-accommodating websites beckon, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is responding.
W3C develops guidelines that are the international bible of web accessibility protocol aimed at enabling the elderly and those with disabilities to get the message clearly.
The organization supports better website navigation for Seniors and the disabled. It’s not as hard as you might think. W3C outlines many tips and best practices that can be implemented by your web team or a content services provider to improve senior website technology.
Website accessibility lawsuits are on the rise
That’s the easy spin for making the website experience more friendly for seniors and accessible for persons with disabilities. Now, here’s the more difficult one.
Website accessibility lawsuits are growing. According to Sefarth Shaw they nearly tripled between 2017 and 2018, with over 2,250 lawsuits in 2018. Such lawsuits are those where plaintiffs with a disability allege they could not use a website because it wasn’t coded to work with assistive technologies like screen reader software.
The lawsuits are being filed mostly in Florida and New York, but no state – or website – is exempt. Suits typically allege a website is not accessible and violates the Americans With Disabilities Act.
One of the most-followed suits is against pizza giant Domino’s Pizza, which has gone to the Supreme Court to determine if the company is legally required to make its websites and apps accessible to all users. A blind person using a screen reader filed suit in 2016 after being unable to order pizzas through the company’s website.
Red Roof Inns, the National Basketball Association, Sprint and Home Depot are facing or have faced legal battles over website accessibility. The list goes on.
This is new legal territory, and experts say lack of regulations governing website accessibility is becoming a breeding ground for lawsuits. At the same time, companies are stuck between a rock and a hard spot on how they should mitigate the legal risk.
Common sense would dictate that a compliant, user-friendly website for people with disabilities and seniors is a smart bet. Even smarter is opening the doors to a growing demographic that is begging to be in multifamily’s marketing budget.
Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.