Many in a study by Atkearney expressed a negative view of advertising, finding it too loud and too focused on young people and rock music. Their findings are supported by a survey by the U.K.’s Age Concern (now called Age UK), in which two-thirds of mature consumers say advertising portrays them negatively and three-quarters say they do not relate to it at all. For some age-related products, usually in the health products field or in personal care, communicating the right message can be particularly challenging. Advertising is a young person’s game, and despite the wealth and spending power of the 50-somethings, it is difficult to craft an age-neutral marketing campaign that appeals to mature consumers. The reign of the l8-to-34 target segment and the mother with kids segment is not over, but Forum members will do well to pay special attention: The agequake is easy to miss, but dangerous to ignore.
As the global population grows older, the human race is about to experience an unprecedented social revolution. The human population is ageing at a truly stunning pace. Within 35 years, there will be more people alive older than 60 than there are people younger than 15. By the 2050s, well over one-third of the adult populations of Spain, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Russia will be older than 60. For the rest of the 21st century, the fastest-growing consumer group in the world will be people over the age of 60.
Once an adult has reached the age of 60, he or she can expect 13 more years of full health in India, 15 more years in China, 19 more years in the United States, and 21 more years in Japan. And this healthy life expectancy at 60 is increasing rapidly, by approximately one year every five years. People are active and healthy well into their 70s and 80s, travelling abroad, dining out, and spending a higher proportion of their incomes on food and drink than those under 60. Age quite simply is not what it used to be: People in their 70s and 80s are increasingly active and energetic—sailing across the Atlantic for charities (the WaterAid crew), foiling burglars (71-years-young Ann Timson, using her handbag), and running marathons (at 92, Gladys Burrill is the oldest woman to finish a marathon). Even Hollywood seems to have relaxed its unwritten casting rules in recent years, allowing Oscar-winning 60-something stars such as Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep and octogenarians Christopher Plummer and Clint Eastwood to go on working and winning accolades.
On the whole, mature consumers want and expect a sympathetic understanding of the realities of age, but they do not want to be treated as old or elderly.
Implications for DTC marketers
Whatever you do, do not call them or think of older people as “the elderly.” Today’s ageing consumers are fitter, healthier, richer, and more active than those in previous generations. They want to play a full part in life. They take pride in their appearance and lifestyles. They want to look good and feel good, and they will choose healthcare treatments that allow them to live life on their terms.
Ageing consumers want to be respected. Ageing consumers want respect and they want to feel that they are needed to play an important role in society, whether in their communities, in the workplace, or in their families. They fear loneliness as much as, if not more than, they fear illness. Focus on the key benefits of your product in terms that communicates benefits that are important to THEM. For example, saying a product will reduce cholesterol may not be as effective as talking about the possible health implications of high cholesterol and how it could lead to health problems that could reduce the quality of life.
Aging consumers are using the Internet. More than 40 percent of Apple Inc. products are bought by boomers, Nielsen has found. Mature consumers have time and want to be well-informed, so they tend to be heavy Internet users and shoppers. There remains a strong divide between those who have entered the Internet and mobile era and those who will never get connected. The age threshold appears to be about 72 years of age, and it goes up one year each year. Once people get connected, they stay connected.