Over the past 30 years, Dana has specialized in travel and tourism marketing, starting with conference centers, hotels and golf/spa resorts as primary clients. Our mission is to sell the lifestyle behind these purchases, knowing that we are not just selling a physical space, but the many ways in which that space is experienced. Beyond what people traditionally see as “travel and tourism,” we have, in recent years, evolved to include other interesting areas where lifestyle marketing strategies are critical to successfully selling the product.
Retirement marketing is entirely about selling a lifestyle. Owners don’t just buy a home—they buy a community, with experiences and relationships that become an important part of their next phase of life. Choosing the right product can be daunting, particularly since many people recognize this will be the last time they move and want to make the best choice to fit their long-term needs.
According to the Pew Research Center, as of January 2011, roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will have turned 65, and about 10,000 more will cross that threshold every day for the next 19 years. The aging of this huge population of Americans requires thinking about their future living options and discovering the varying types of retirement products available in the market.
One of our clients, The Forest at Duke, offers what is known as a “Continuing Care Retirement Community” or CCRC. CCRCs offer specialized services, support and security. Residents get peace of mind knowing there are three levels of care—all within the same community. They know that if their needs change, the appropriate level of support is available, from independent living to assisted living and nursing care. Residents move in when they are at their healthiest (typically at a young 70 or 80 years) but also looking ahead to future wellness needs. Prospective customers don’t want to think of themselves as “old.” In fact, Pew Research reports the typical Boomer believes that old age does not begin until age 72. Consequently, our lifestyle message to them is all about finding ways to stay young and how this community can support that aspiration.
Higher education marketing
In higher education, students are not just buying a degree, but also all of the supporting programs, events, friendships and lifelong learning memories that come with the total university experience. With a college-bound student in our home, we were interested to see how many university marketing materials look alike. Not just similar, but almost identical in many cases, with happy smiling faces of students and testimonials of how it was the “best choice they ever made.” Between the website searches, college fairs and direct mail received by the bundle, there was a sea of “vanilla” that really made it difficult to distinguish and choose between the available options.
There are nearly 2,500 public and private institutions in the U.S. offering four-year degrees, plus another 1,600 two-year institutions. So how do you make a college or university stand out? Unique brand messaging is lacking in most university marketing materials, and our goal is to identify what makes our educational clients appear different and better than the rest. Broader lifestyle positioning helps students become aware of how the total environment will impact their four-year experience. We want to remove the same-ness by selling the special nature of the lifestyle both on and off campus.
A lifestyle is the way in which a person or group lives. Every client should look at its own products and ask how to best deliver a lifestyle promise to its customers.