Neer Korn is the founder of social and market research company The Korn Group and is a popular speaker at conferences and company seminars on social issues and consumer trends.
You might be interested in Neer’s blog which regularly publishes articles on a variety of subjects affecting baby boomers.
Check out one of Neer’s most recent articles on the ignorance of advertising and marketing to the over 50’s:
On a recent drive I caught a brief look at a perplexing billboard. I can’t recall what it was advertising –apologies for focusing on the road – but I did notice the largest font words asking “Over 55?”
It seems there is no real difference between being 55 years old, 90 years old or beyond. It is assumed that once the magical age of 55 is reached all consumers share the same values, lifestyle, outlook and consumption patterns. At least that’s the conclusion once can draw from this billboard and, surprisingly, most other advertising and marketing campaigns.
Most companies are very skilful at segmenting the audience in order to most efficiently reach, cater and communicate with them. These manifest according to age, lifestage, attitudes, product usage and a myriad of other categories. Some companies devote significant resources to getting this right in order to guide their areas of concentration. Many of these segmentations will include one column which is in line with the billboard I mentioned above – “over 55 years”.
Why are all consumers over and well over the age of 55 years lumped in together as one homogenous group? Why is there no refinement between the semi-retired or recently retired in their 60s and their parents’ generation, say?
For their part, Australians in their 60s are perplexed by this phenomenon. But even more so, they cannot understand why so few brands and advertisers bother to speak to them at all. In many cases they regard themselves as an ideal audience. They are cashed up, have time on their hands, are willing and able to spend, are spritely in their outlook, and yet are largely ignored.
This issue was raised consistently in our latest study Grey Boom Leisure & Communication looking at the lifestyle and attitudes of recent and pre-retirees and the media which appeals to them.
“We’ve got more spending power than any other generation, X, Y, Z or whatever,” said one participant. “It’s like ‘Knock, knock! Hello! We’re here!’ And still they’ll be more interested in the younger demographic.” They notice that advertising features and targets kids, teens, young people, younger mums and dads – anyone but them.
There were some notably stereotypical exceptions which were discussed with much ridicule and laughter. “There are some ads that do target us,” summed up one, “like the pay-in-advance funerals.”
It is difficult to find a rational explanation for thec disregard of older Australians as consumers. It may just be ageism. The majority of marketing and advertising executives tend to be young, and when you are 30 anyone over 50 is old – their parent’s generation. And who wants to market to their parents?
It may also be misguided pre-conceptions. One such example is that older consumers tend not to experiment with different brands – their loyalty is assured because their consumption patterns of the last couple of decades will continue unabated. In fact, in most cases, the opposite is true.
Now that they are free of work and child rearing responsibilities they have the time and money to explore and experiment.
Chances are that older consumers are also perceived to be much older than they actually feel. In some ways they can understand this. Each time they look in the mirror they realise how deceiving their bodies are relative to their spritely minds and attitudes. There is much they wish to experience and their “bucket list” is long. They are all about enjoying these years and making the most out of life while they are still able to.
While other segments of the population often feel over whelmed by the seemingly relentless pursuit of advertising and marketing campaigns for their spending dollars, the Boomers are not. Their message is quite the opposite. “Speak to me” is what they are saying.
check out more articles from Neer’s blog: