5 Branding Trends in Senior Living To Watch in 2022

5 Branding Trends in Senior Living To Watch in 2022

It’s safe to say that Senior Living has had a hard time lately. With new variants of COVID-19 still disrupting normal life, especially for the particularly vulnerable, senior living has seen fewer residents moving in and fewer stakeholders investing their dollars. Still, occupancy rates are once again on the rise as we begin 2022, having rebounded promisingly in Q3 and Q4 of 2021 according to reports by NIC. Now that the industry is approaching some semblance of its previous stability, what new trends will emerge as new developments and rebrands hit the market? These five emerging senior living branding trends are setting the tone for senior living marketers in 2022, and we can’t wait to see which trends make the biggest impact on the industry as the year goes on.

Health & Safety Are More Central Than Ever

Of course, the pandemic is far from over, and potential residents are still prioritizing health and safety in their housing decisions. Senior living brands are responding with messaging that highlights the health and safety of their communities, with amenities like on-site COVID vaccination and higher staffing ratios featured front and center on home pages and brochures.

In addition to messaging updates, new brands and rebranded communities are also gravitating toward names that signal reliability and health along with logos that signal wellness and stability. In many cases, this is simply a doubling down on themes that already dominated the senior living space, with natural motifs like trees, lakes, and mountains having long since become ubiquitous in the senior living market. Some developments, however, are looking for fresh takes on the themes of health and safety in order to establish themselves as modern yet still reliable. In these cases, similar symbolism is incorporated, but in novel, less on-the-nose ways. Instead of names like “Terrace Grove” and “Sagewood” you might find more names like “Wellstead” and “Aegis.”

Digital-First Strategies Extend into Branding Claims

With senior living marketing teams now prioritizing digital tactics like virtual tours, digital brochures, and video advertising, the digital-first approach to real estate marketing has finally taken root in the senior living market. But it’s not just the tactics themselves that are getting digitized. These digital-first approaches are extending into brand identities as senior living communities seek to establish themselves as great places to stay connected and live life to the fullest.

senior resident using laptop while stretching

Even more than before, residents are coming to rely on digital forms of connection with family and friends, so having tech amenities like high-speed internet is a must. In fact, health needs and digital needs are intertwined more than ever, with telemedicine becoming an important resource for some seniors and video calls becoming central to maintaining the social connections that are crucial for mental health. The importance of the digital sphere within senior living communities is being reflected more and more in branding, with new brands boasting their modern technical side in addition to the traditional human care side.

The Borders of “Senior Living” Are Excluding “Active Adult”

Although some lump Active Adult housing and senior living together under the same umbrella, Active Adult is quickly becoming its own separate entity. In many cases, Active Adult communities share more in common with their multifamily counterparts than they do with traditional senior living communities offering Independent Living, Assisted Living, and/or Memory Care.

senior living branding examples for ArborView Active Adult brand

While there is some overlap in the needs of residents in Active Adult housing compared to Independent Living, more and more Active Adult communities are specifically using “Active Adult” and not using “Senior Living” in their branding and marketing. This effort to differentiate took on added importance during the pandemic as Active Adult communities catering to adults 55 and over sought to distance themselves from senior living communities that were dealing with COVID outbreaks and negative press coverage.

Market Consolidation Is Leading To More Umbrella Branding

With senior living brands facing a more uncertain market than before the pandemic, market consolidation has accelerated in recent years. That’s because the big fish in senior living tend to be the best equipped to adapt to the rising challenges presented by COVID. For example, these top senior living management companies, owners, and developers are able to create mutually advantageous partnerships with Medicare and other Health Care programs. Meanwhile, the smaller fish are struggling to keep up with increasing staffing demands and so on, sometimes leading them to sell existing communities or halt new development projects.

Among the “big fish” of senior housing are umbrella brands like Atria Senior Living, Brookdale, and Five Star Senior Living, each having dozens of communities across the United States. Communities managed by umbrella brands like these tend to use the same branding as their parent company from top to bottom—name, logo, colors, messaging, etc.—but others may take select elements of the umbrella brand like logo and colors but achieve added individuality by incorporating slight variations on logomarks and other branded elements in addition to selecting a unique name for each property.

“Luxury” Brands Are On The Rise

The senior living industry is beginning to bounce back and investors are ready to get back in the game, which means we could see a wave of new developments breaking ground in 2022. Those that have emerged within the last few years are reminiscent of luxury multifamily properties when it comes to their branding. Phrases like “resort-style” and “five-star,” which have long been buzzwords in the multifamily vertical, are now making their way into senior living websites and brochures too. Active Living communities may have helped spur on this shift, bridging the conceptual gap between luxury multifamily brands and the senior living industry. As active adults are coming to expect more from their housing communities, so are seniors and their family members looking for Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care.

Top Misconceptions About Senior Housing Marketing

Top Misconceptions About Senior Housing Marketing

With Active Living communities proliferating and the next generation of seniors entering retirement age, a new era of senior housing marketing is well underway. But old beliefs about seniors and their housing needs still impact how communities are developed and marketed. After all, it wasn’t long ago that “retirement homes” and “nursing homes” were considered the primary choices for seniors looking for apartment-style living options.

The misconceptions still lingering about the senior housing market don’t just influence how people outside the industry think about senior living, they also impact what senior housing developers, owners, and management firms believe about senior housing marketing best practices. That’s why we wanted to take the opportunity to explore some of the most common senior housing marketing misconceptions today. We’ll interrogate some commonly held assumptions and deconstruct them to arrive at the truth about marketing housing to seniors.

Misconception #1: All Senior Living Communities Have The Same Marketing Needs

Senior living is not a monolith, but marketing practices are still working to catch up with its modern evolutions. Today, there are many different types of senior housing communities, each with its own unique marketing needs and best practices. Active Living communities have very different marketing needs compared to Assisted Living, and Assisted Living has different needs than Memory Care. A hybrid community has different challenges still. A good senior apartment marketing plan takes the community’s unique offerings into account. This applies to strategies around branding, digital ad tactics, website design, SEO strategies, and lots more.

Some senior apartment marketing strategies (like SEO and ad targeting tactics n particular) will also differ between urban vs. suburban vs. rural communities. Further, each unique local market carries its own culture of expectations, trends, and competition. Gone are the days when seemingly all senior housing communities were out in the suburbs, away from the hubbub of city life.

These different needs also arise from different audiences across different community types. Adult children of the senior prospect often have a primary role in selecting Memory Care, for example, while the senior and other decision makers may divide responsibility for the housing decision more evenly for Assisted Living. When it comes to Active Living, adult children may assist in the housing choice, but often the senior prospect will make their decision independently. Messaging, brand voice, ad targeting, and other marketing factors should take these differences into account.

Misconception #2: Senior Apartment Marketing Needs to Be “Safe” or “Conservative”

Today’s generation of seniors (and their adult children) are just as fun-loving, bold, and free-spirited as anyone else. Marketing for seniors tends to be safe and conservative, but these tactics often verge on boring and unimaginative, which isn’t winning anyone over. In fact, avoiding the safe and conservative option in favor of the bold, out-of-the-box option can be a huge breath of fresh air for seniors who are bored of the same old, same old and looking for brands that truly resonate with their inner spirit.

senior man leaning on window

Keep age in mind, but don’t be ageist when you do so. That means taking the time to think critically about what you think will resonate with your target audience and why. Take care to eschew assumptions that may stereotype seniors in condescending and inaccurate ways. Push yourself to be bold and engaging without necessarily being youthful; after all, no generation has a monopoly on fun, audacity, or spirit.

Misconception #3: Senior Housing Marketing Relies on Traditional/Print Tactics

The old practice of ignoring the digital sphere in favorite of traditional print marketing tactics no longer works for today’s senior apartment marketing audience. While this audience continues to find traditional marketing persuasive, that doesn’t mean you can neglect digital tactics entirely.

seniors using digital devices

Contrary to common assumption, cutting-edge digital marketing campaigns will reach today’s generation of tech-savvy seniors and their adult children. It’s becoming essential for senior housing communities to think about SEO, website UX, virtual leasing, digital ad campaigns, and more.

Misconception #4: Senior Housing Is Only For Seniors

With age-restricted communities, it’s easy to focus on just the members of your marketing audience that fall into your resident age range. But while seniors are your residents, many seniors want to live in a community that welcomes their entire family and provides a place to share during visits. That’s why some senior housing communities feature amenities like children’s playgrounds. Keep in mind that the adult children of seniors will be a large part of your audience too, and this community will be a place they come when they visit their parent(s).

senior woman and young woman cooking together

In other words, your marketing should invite your audience to imagine your community not just as an ideal place for seniors, but also for the whole family. That means family-friendly amenities, proximity to city centers and major highways, and spacious interiors with room to entertain can be well worth a shout-out on your digital ads, website design, and more.

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