A recent study by McCann Erickson Communications House (MECH) found that 67 per cent of over-50s say that advertising does not reflect their life nowadays and 62 per cent say they find a great deal of advertising patronising....so just where are marketers going wrong?
“That’s what we set out to understand” says Jacqui Power, Planning Director at MECH. “There is a lot of talk about the potential of the over-50s for brands and businesses, not surprising given the fact that it is the fastest growing demographic and holds 80 per cent of the UK’s personal wealth, but we identified that there was very little practical advice for marketers on how, or indeed whether, your brand needs to talk differently to a 50+ audience. In fact for many brand and marketing managers their only source of reference is their own parents or grandparents.”
McCann’s study Hit or Myth – the young person’s guide to targeting the over-50s, is the result of six months of research including focus groups with those in their 50s, 60s and 70s; a TNS quantitative study comparing the attitudes of those over 50 with those under and, last but not least, a collaborative project with the Future Foundation – the UK’s leading social trends analysts.
So, why do those 50+ feel that advertisers are getting it so wrong? Power explains: “Noticeable amongst those in their 50s was the level of resentment in terms of how they were labelled by their age in ads. One respondent told us: ‘I don’t need reminding of my age or anyone telling me how I should behave just because I’ve reached a certain number’.
“But even more striking in the data we looked at is just how cynical those in their 50s are and how that cynicism has grown over the last 30 years – particularly in their attitudes towards companies and brands.”
“56 per cent of 50 year olds disagree that companies are fair to consumers nowadays – head and shoulders above any other age group – older or younger.”
So, why is this? Power continues: “They are the age group that have lived through the rise of consumerism and have been exposed to a lifetime of marketing, they are extremely savvy – are at the peak of their careers and are feeling liberated and youthful. Not surprising then that they are disgruntled by the way companies address them in the same way as those in their more senior years.”
Perhaps quite controversially, MECH believes its study has shown that age segmentation is not outdated when it comes to targeting the over-50s. “We have uncovered very clear differences between those in their 50s, 60s and 70s that have important implications.”