written by Olivia Fuller

Why age is the hottest thing in marketing right now

Just when you thought you were invisible, it seems that if you are over 50 you are suddenly marketing’s hottest property.

Proving that all things that go around come around, Australia’s recent  Mumbrella360 conference, pointed out that marketers are missing out on a huge opportunity if they continue to focus solely on Millennials.

According to research presented by  Fifty Not Out,  the over 50s is the fastest growing consumer population in Australia while 50+ is the most asset rich group in the world, spending more than half a billion dollars on brands, every day.

The over 50s comprises no fewer than eight million people in Australia alone, with someone joining the 50+ category every three minutes.

Clearly this is a very diverse and broad category of individuals. But brands continue to market to the over 50s as a single demographic.

The over 50s is not one group of people

Grouping someone who is 50 with someone who is 80 is like trying to market to my four year old and I in the same way – a pretty ridiculous concept.

Much greater segmentation needs to happen to appeal to people over 50 in the life stage that they are in.

Research referenced at the conference had studied people aged 50 to 85 in five-year increments. It revealed that age milestones no longer define life at this stage. The more defining factor is our state of health: if I maintain my health, age becomes irrelevant.

People over 50 are trying to align their lifespan with their health span, with a goal of quality longevity.

Thinking about the over 50s in terms of interests (health), hobbies (exercise, travel) and life stage (career / retirement / grand parents) rather than age alone will give marketers more specific options for segmentation.

And in terms of reaching them, keep in mind that 65% of people over 50 are on Facebook.

Make over 50s more visible in marketing

Another challenge for marketers to overcome is that the over 50s are virtually invisible in the marketing landscape.

A panellist at the conference cited research stating that women over 35 are twice as likely to buy something if they can relate to someone in the advertising who reflects their age.

When you think about how the over 50s are reflected in our everyday marketing, it makes sense that fewer than 10% of people over the age of 50 say that marketing doesn’t connect with them.

The problem is, brands believe that consumers want youth. Could that be because there are fewer than 10% of people in marketing over the age of 50?

Some brands are starting to catch on. In Australia, Target is one of the stand outs, mixing older models of varying shapes and sizes with young in a natural, unforced way in its  Ever Body  campaign launched a few years ago.

Marketing, demographics, agency

Globally, the luxury market is leading the “old is new” trend.

Mercedes Roadster made a  brilliant ad  for the Super Bowl, produced by the Cohen Brothers, featuring a full over 50s cast.

Marketing, demographics, fuller

And traditionally youth obsessed fashion brands appear to be tiring of the cult of youth and are making older models the hottest trend in fashion advertising – from Joan Didion becoming the new face of CELINE, to Yves Saint Laurent’s campaign with Joni Mitchell.

Marketing demographics

These faces bring a substance, a story and a timeless style to these brands that only comes with age.

The fact is, it doesn’t matter how old you are, no one feels their age.

We are living in an era of agelessness, where ageing is being totally redefined and consumer behaviour is tribal, not generational.

It’s well and truly time to throw our stereotypes out the window, bust some ageist myths and rocket age up the marketing agenda.

Because age is so hot right now.

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