Connecting with older consumers is challenging, especially when you consider that most of the folks who work for ad agencies are millennials who don’t have much intimate knowledge about older consumers. The challenge is especially great in digital agencies, where the median age of employees is only 28. Only about 5% of agency employees are over 50 and virtually none of them are in creative departments but tend toward upper management. Forbes calls this the “ugly ism” in advertising.
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Later in the Forbes article, we see the problem of ageism is even worse, with most agencies counseling clients to focus on marketing to customers under 35.
Fast Company goes so far as to say;
Ads geared toward older consumers tend to be condescending at best, offensive at worst. The world of oldsvertising is a hellscape full of reverse mortgages, erectile dysfunction pills, and bathtubs that won’t kill you.
Certainly, other factors contribute to the dirth of good advertising and marketing focused on older consumers, but the relative youth of creatives doesn’t help matters.
Why connecting with older consumers is important
Connecting with older consumers is only important if you want success, otherwise ignore them at will.
Maybe some stats will help.
In the UK, consumers over 50 account for 23 million people. In the US, consumers over 50 account for 34% of the population and within just a few decades those 65+ will outnumber children for the first time in recorded history.
Not only are folks living longer, they’re healthier than any preceding generation of older consumers. More important, they’re also wealthier, due to expanded social security and the push toward saving for retirement. In fact, consumers over 50 own 80% of all deposits in banks and savings and loans and report 2.4 trillion in income, which is 42% of the after tax income reported in the US [source]. HBR presents evidence that 50% of everything sold at retail (both in-store and online) is sold to someone over 50.
Image courtesy of Social 4 Retail
As this data convincingly shows, you ignore connecting with older consumers at your peril.
How to connect with older consumers
Many of the effective methods for reaching younger consumers, like social media marketing, don’t work as well for older consumers so you need better strategies for connecting to older consumers. That doesn’t mean that older people don’t use social media because they do, but it isn’t usually the most successful way to market products to them. That’s because older consumers tend to ignore social influence, which is the reason social media works with younger consumers.
If you are struggling in connecting with older consumers, here are some of the best marketing methods to try.
Not all older consumers are the same
Older consumers are vastly different from each other. In fact, older consumers vary greatly, ranging in age from 50 to 90+. Hence, their wants and needs are vastly different. Consider the 50+ consumer who still has older children at home or in college, owns their home, and has a two-income household. Plus, they’re likely still employed and earn a salary. Compare that with someone 70+ who is less likely to own a home, doesn’t have kids at home, frequently lives alone as the surviving partner, and relies on a combination of savings, pension (or retirement account), and social security for income. Those are huge difference.
Develop products for them
Many products are developed with younger consumers in mind. Connecting with older consumers means thinking about them when creating products. For instance, in the beauty rhelm, you find older consumers need more moisturizers to replace the moisture lost in hair and skin through natural aging. Even products where no tangible difference exists between older and younger consumers, consider using older actors and scenes reflecting the lives of older consumers in your promotions if you want to connect with older consumers.
Think inclusivity rather than stereotyping older consumers if you want to connect with them.
Reaching older consumers
Older consumers likely watch TV, although they may subscribe to streaming services like Netflix or time shift by recording live TV. They’re less likely to choose YouTube or TikTok as their source for entertainment and more likely to use them as sources of information.
Older consumers tend to have more time on their hands, which means they’re more likely to do research into a product before buying it. Researching products is commonplace in people from all generations these days, but the young generation tends to use review sites, whereas the older generation looks for more in-depth information about products, like buying guides that compare different options and outline the pros and cons of each. Thus, they’re more pragmatic in their search for brand information than millennials who thrive on drama in making choices. They’re also more influenced by value and affordability over price.
That’s why content marketing is one of the most effective ways of connecting with older generation. If you create informative content about your products to help guide people’s purchasing decisions, you can drive a lot of traffic to your site from older consumers. This helps you to build trust, which is very important when marketing to older consumers, as they tend to be more loyal to specific brands.
Image courtesy of Signal
People of all ages listen to the radio but older consumers are more likely to listen to radio on a regular basis, such as in their cars, while younger people are more likely to use music streaming services or download music. That’s why radio advertising is a brilliant way to reach older consumers. Check out howtoadvertiseonsiriusxm.com for more information about getting your ads on the radio.
You might think that Youtube ads are a good way to reach the younger generation but they’re not effective for older consumers but that’s not actually the case. In fact, 67% of people aged 56 and older watch Youtube on a regular basis, which is only a little less than the 77% of people aged 26 to 35 use Youtube on a regular basisThat means Youtube ads are actually one of the best online strategies for marketing to the older generation.
New technologies like live chat services are taking over phone support in a lot of businesses. The younger generation tends to prefer quick solutions that don’t involve waiting in long call queues. However, older people still prefer a human interaction, so you should increase phone support and create marketing campaigns that drive more calls.
Direct marketing still works with older consumers, who prefer catalogs and coupons delivered to their door rather than using apps and smartphones to inform and make purchases.
Unless you change your strategy and adopt some of these methods, you will find it difficult to reach the older generation.
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