Adult Children: Senior Living’s Key Target Market?

Mother and daughter walking hand-in-hand

Jan 16, 2014 | Marketing & Branding

As any good freshman marketing student can tell you, the first commandment of effective marketing is to “Know Thy Customer.” Only by having an in-depth knowledge of your customer’s needs, expectations, preferences and motivations–and responding effectively to them–can your organization be successful in establishing itself as a “provider of choice”.

Today, savvy marketers are recognizing that adult children are playing a central, and increasingly important, role in the senior living evaluation and selection process. Senior living marketers are focusing on prospects’ adult children as a strategy to grow sales and expedite decision-making.

As reported by Alyssa Gerace in an ALFA Update article titled, “Reaching the Adult Children of Senior Living: The Next Gatekeepers,” a recent study by, found that adult children of prospective residents are involved in their parents’ transition into a new setting 73% of the time. The study found that although seniors and their adult children have many of the same values when it comes to picking the right residence, they tend to have different perspectives, information needs and evaluation criteria, especially depending on the level of care being sought.

Mother and daughter walking hand-in-hand

Marketing Myopia?

In a recent survey of 500 users, nearly three-quarters of those inquiring about senior care were adult children. Scott Healy,’s executive vice president of marketing and general manager confirms that most of the time, their care advisors speak with an adult child today. Out of those adult children, it was the adult daughter 71% of the time. Despite this evidence, many senior living providers continue to focus their marketing efforts exclusively on prospective seniors and institutional referral sources rather than targeting the increasingly important adult children, and in particular, adult daughters.

Differing Information Priorities and Selection Criteria

Going forward, many experts believe the vast majority of searches for senior living will be conducted by adult children, and they will be searching almost exclusively online. What they’re looking for typically differs from what a prospective senior might want to know. Many adult children do not have the time or the inclination to talk to someone on the phone. They want the data they’re searching for, pricing for example, as quickly and conveniently as possible.

A Summer 2013 survey revealed that the three most important factors for adult child caregivers in the search for senior services are:

  • Location
  • Cost
  • Customer reviews of the community

Most providers, however, still emphasize traditional marketing staples such as food, services and amenities as opposed to what adult children are actually looking for these days. Website sections dealing with financial and legal information, healthy aging and helping aging parents or spouses would seem of greater interest and relevance.

Implications for Senior Living Providers

So what does the prominence of adult children, particularly adult daughters, as an online force mean to senior living providers? For starters, it means you have not one but two priority target audiences – senior prospects and adult children – each with differing perspectives and information needs.

Clearly, the best strategy is to address proactively the needs of both audiences across your various sales and marketing channels – particularly in the focus and content of your website and social media. For example, it would be wise to create a special section or portal in your website that speaks directly to the unique concerns, issues and information needs of Adult children – some of whom might live hundreds of miles away from their parents. While their priorities may differ, both groups are key to finalizing sales and growing your business. Ignore either group at your own peril.

Expert Help Is Available

If you require proven expertise or additional experienced resources to help you strengthen your community’s appeal to the adult children of prospective senior residents, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the senior living marketplace and has the specialized expertise and the award-winning experience required to succeed.

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