Who are you calling old?

21 Sep 2016

Now that over 1/3 of the UK population is over 50 years old, the ‘mature’ or ‘grey’ market is a huge potential opportunity for brands to innovate.

But nonetheless, a perennial question our clients pose for us is ‘how to communicate with an older audience?’ We’ve completed lots of insight work in this area and thought we’d share a little of our wisdom here…

Golden rule number 1

They are not old. It doesn’t matter how old they are (or how old they seem to a young marketer) they never think of themselves as old. We’ve met seventy year olds who are committed to their daily (yes, daily!) exercise regime and will wax lyrical about the ‘old lady’ down the road that they help. Every consumer we’ve ever met on safari, on-line ethnology or in groups will tell you about the ‘old people’ they know! This of course raises the question how do you target an older segment when no-one recognises themselves as old?!

A key element in the answer to that question is about tailoring your offering rather than ‘labelling’ your consumer. Which leads us on to our next insight.

Number 2

Their lives are changing but generally they are ok with that.   ‘Things’ don’t work like they used to but with a bit of PMA and a few ‘helping hands’ they still perceive themselves as healthy. Exercise often increases in importance; the intensity may well go down but the frequency often goes up. They believe they eat better than they used to and are often open to credible health and functional foods

Number 3

We’ll call this a caveat (as we don’t like to contradict ourselves!) We’ve spotted two broad segments. The ‘Empowered’; who the two rules above definitely apply to and the ‘Resigned’ who are a whole lot less positive about ageing. It probably goes without saying that the Empowered are a more attractive target for marketers with age related propositions.

Golden rule number 4

The 60s are a crucial decade with a fascinating gender difference. Women often revel in their sixties; a time of contentment and a time for themselves when they are no longer a primary carer.   They often describe themselves as ‘confident and comfortable’. For men the sixties can be a less comfortable decade often associated with a loss of status, as they retire or are surpassed at work or in sport by younger men.  These psychological frames are crucial to a truly tailored offering.

Number 5

Sorry to say but temptation and associated guilt are still factors for these consumers. That’s not something we grow out of! They know what they want, they know what is good for them and the two don’t always align.   Sometimes this is fine, sometimes they give in and feel guilt. Off-setting guilt or managing permissibility can help a product gain traction.

Number 6

Wellbeing is a desirable, if slightly intangible, goal. Wellbeing has many elements: physical, spiritual, social and psychological. All aspects seem to come into sharp relief, as our consumers get older.  Body and mind health are intertwined, inseparable and invaluable. Cater for both and you have yourself a winner!

What are you going to do about it?

We’ve completed a number of successful projects, across Europe and the US, for high profile brands targeting the mature segment.   We’re really excited about the potential for innovators to unlock this neglected and under-rated demographic.

We’d love to help you and your brand get to grips with the opportunity

So, if you would like to explore how to unlock this demographic’s potential why not drop us a line, give us a call, or contact one of the team via LinkedIn.  We’d love to talk you through your options!

Written by  Joanna King