Gen X (42-57) and Baby Boomers (58-76) collectively account for 63% of spending. The feeling among older consumers that they should be addressed is not surprising, given the under-allocation of corporate resources and marketing efforts against this audience.
Multiple research studies have documented a disconnect between advertising/marketing efforts and what older adults need. For example, an AARP study found that 62% of older people still feel ads have unrealistic representations of the over the 50s, and nearly half (47%) agree that “ads of people my age reinforce outdated stereotypes.” Moreover, a recent paper published in the Journal of Advertising by Martin Eisend found that older consumers are understudied despite increasing market size and buying power. There is an imbalance of focus and investment in older consumers based on their actual spending power.
According to Jeff Weiss, CEO (Chief EvAGElist Offer) of Age of Majority, “There is a real discrepancy between what the business world says and their actions. Over half of our survey respondents consider a greater focus on adults 50+ (who account for 52% of consumer spending) to be a growth priority. Yet, less than 30% of their marketing spend targets this relatively affluent group.”
Businesses would be well served to serve older consumers better to understand research insights on this market. A key point to come out of Age of Majority’s research studies is that older consumers want to be independent and live as autonomously as possible.
One thing that the Longevity Explorers did have in common was frustration with some of the developed technology without input from end users like them. For example, one 81-year-old participant in the discussion recounted how she had broken her femur and, although she was able to call for help, she was concerned with emergency personnel having to break down her front door to get inside her home (leading her to have to crawl to the door literally). She noted how this would have been impossible had she been unconscious, so she suggested a smart app that works with fall detection (as used in an Apple Watch) to detect a fall, call for help, and unlock the front door.
Here are some specific actions marketers can take to better appeal to adults 50 (who control over 50% of all consumer spending), that include:
1) Challenging assumptions about older consumers, consider what they are based on and how they impact research/analysis/product development strategy and marketing.
2) Integrating feedback from a range of older adults into the innovation pipeline early in the process (and baking it into processes so there is consistency in action internally among departments)
3) Think bigger picture in addressing the needs of older consumers: understand their lives, potential needs (now and later on) and their outlook at a higher level to understand opportunities (not just for tech product innovation, but for marketing, potential partnerships, etc.)
4) Considering how older consumers will interface with technology and how you can help them to help themselves, so technology is empowering, not discouraging or intimidating
5) Getting feedback from older adults at every step, including during the creative process of advertising.