JAN 2002 Boston Business Forward Washington Business Forward



Sold on Seniors
Local Marketing Maven Targets the Older Crowd

The AARP is the biggest membership organization in the U.S. This fall, the lobbying association for retired Americans hit a historic 35-million-member mark. By 2025, seniors will comprise more than 25 percent of the U.S. population. Yet corporate America, accustomed to courting teens and baby boomers, ignores the older demographic. Case in point: When 10,000 of the country's biggest companies received a survey this year from AARP requesting that they name the "best employers for workers over 50," only 14 responses were sent back.

Gary Onks, CEO of Fredericksburg, VA-based Sold on Seniors, Inc., wants to change all that. Onks, a cashed-out telecom entrepreneur, released his new book this fall, aptly titled Sold on Seniors: How You Can Reach and Sell to the $20 Trillion Senior Marketplace. (The $20-trillion figure came from an AARP study that calculated seniors' total wealth in 1998.) Since 1998, when he sold off his stake in Access Telecom, Onks has been working as a marketing consultant to help companies get senior savvy. "I want to get corporate America to wake up. I want these people to see the seniors," says Onks. But maybe the effort has something to do with his own aging: Onks just turned 50, and now officially qualifies as a "senior" himself.















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