Brands are missing a trick when it comes to aging consumers.
Most brands could justifiably be accused of elder neglect. The population is aging rapidly, and yet brands fail to target that segment with the kind of gusto you’d expect. If you considered advertising to be a reflection of our society, you might be under the impression that the average life expectancy was between 50-60 years, which is obviously not our reality. In fact, the over-55 population is rapidly growing (along with their wealth)—so shouldn’t brands be growing with them? The answer is that they should, and here are 5 reasons why.
1. They’re a fast-growing demographic
In 2020 for the first time, there were more 55-year-olds on earth than 5-year-olds. By 2035 it’s estimated that for the first time, older adults will outnumber children in the United States. What does this tell us? That brands are doing themselves a serious disservice by not focusing on how to properly tap into this demographic. Ignoring such a large percentage of the population is, simply put, an error.
2. They control the wealth
Older people have more money (partly because they’re working longer), but they’re being left out in the cold. Baby boomers, for example, control 70% of Americans’ disposable income, yet only 5% of advertising is geared toward their age group. Moreover, by 2020, globally people over 60 account for $15 trillion in spending. For luxury companies with distinctly unaffordable goods, like Chanel, for example, the majority of their consumer-base is over 50.
3. They value brand loyalty
It’s typical for marketers to focus on the new GenZ generation—members are those born between 1997 and 2015—reaching out to them to acquire new customers, and why not? They’re young, and—most importantly—their disposable income habits aren’t yet fully formed! And often, it’s deemed more valuable to acquire new customers than it is to keep old ones. However, a 2018 study done by Havas shows that 68% of over-55 consumers buy something online every month, meaning they consistently contribute to the brands they love. And, when they’ve had a good experience with a brand, 68% of over-55s say they’re likely to share it with others.
4. They appreciate being appreciated
Brands who have been able to accurately market to our multi-generational society have seen results: In the beauty industry—one where many older women feel entirely ignored—L’Oreal has been able to find success by striking a balance across all age groups. In their recent partnership with British Vogue launching “The Non-Issue,” an 80-page print campaign created by and dedicated to women over the age of 50, featuring only models over 50 as well. In less than a month, “The Non-Issue” reached greater coverage than even Vogue’s most successful September issue, an incredible feat. So it’s not that the older generation isn’t interested in beauty and fashion, or any other industry. They just don’t feel that these industries are interested in them.
5. Demographics are not individuals
It’s easy to group people by age or gender, but when brands do that they create barriers for themselves. People don’t turn into carbon-copies of each other when they hit their 50th, 55th, or 60th birthdays. At the end of the day, they’re just individuals aging, and should be treated as such. And especially considering the incredible breadth of different attitudes people have towards aging (for example, the way people in China view aging is worlds apart from the way its viewed in, say, France), it becomes clear that marketers should focus less on age demographics, and perhaps more on attitudes and behaviors.
It’s a shame more brands don’t put more resources towards over-55 consumers. They’re interested in creating relationships with brands and have the capital to make a real difference in a brand’s success. It’s a golden opportunity for companies to run circles round the competition! The most savvy brands, such as American Apparel, Vivienne Westwood, and Louis Vuitton, are leading the way. Have you woken up to the untapped potential of engaging in a brand conversation with seniors?