With an ageing population, life expectancy going up and baby boomers benefitting from owning their own homes, marketing professionals now need to learn how to communicate with an older audience in order to fulfil their consumer needs.
Currently, in the UK the over 65s account for 18% of the population; a rise of 3% in the last 20 years. That is set to rise by a further 6% by 2046 as the reality of an ageing population continues. But, most striking of all, ONS figures show that in 1977 only one-fifth (21%) of retired households had a disposable income over £10,000 a year, but by 2016, this had increased to 96%. The mean gross income of retired households was £29,000 in 2016, almost three-times higher in real terms than in 1977 (£10,500). This can be explained through baby boomers enjoying the benefits and security of owning their own homes; harking back to Right to Buy in the 1980s, taking advantage of nationalised industries being floated on the Stock Market in the late 20th Century as well as increased job security and lucrative pension schemes furthering their wealth. In turn, this has led to more than 80% of Britain’s wealth being owned by baby boomers.
Yet, brand marketing is heavily driven towards millennials. A recent study by SunLife of 50,000 baby boomers found that 89% believed brands weren’t interested in them, 74% thought they were never represented in mainstream advertising and 72% believed that the representation of people over 50 was an outdated stereotype. There is no doubt that this is a big opportunity for brands and marketers but they must learn to understand their audience and what they want from brands.
For advertising to work within this demographic, it needs to be meaningful for the over 50s and it needs to appeal to their lifestyles. Therefore, brands must cater to those looking for new experiences, health ideas, travel and products to make life easier. The reality is: being over 50 can no longer be classified as being old. The over 50s just want to have fun, be adventurous and try new things like any other generation. Therefore, brands need to wake up to the potential in revenue that pitching towards the baby boomers could bring.
One example of a brand that has had success pitching towards an older market is L’Oréal. Noticing the youth obsession amongst marketing professional within the health industry, its Golden Age campaign is a great example of how to engage consumers in their fifties and over. Under the tagline ‘gold, not old’, L’Oréal has partnered with Helen Mirren to launch a new campaign which challenges attitudes towards older women. The health and beauty brand is aiming to highlight the fact that older women possess wisdom and experience which should be valued and cherished.
With an ageing population, there are great opportunities for brands to market themselves to a loyal audience with huge spending power. However, marketing professionals will need to widen their scope being more inclusive in their material and being more sensitive in their approach to targeting the older generation – no clichés, caricatures or gimmicks! In return, brands will be rewarded by an age group in society whose spending power is only going to increase in the future. With silver, there is gold.