Don’t stereotype the older woman

Your article “Grey matters” (MW October 28) made the important point that the over-50 market cannot be seen as one lumpen mass, made up of people with similar lifestyles and ideals. Advertisers frequently resort to easy stereotypes when targeting older folk – and even though Tesco has admirably made a jolly old grandmother a recurring character in its latest ads, she fits the frumpish, penny-counting stereotype of the little old lady.

Whereas marketers need to segment consumers into broad markets to a degree, and have to employ demographic “types” to appeal to different audiences, they also need to be sensitive to social changes – such as better health, rising wealth and diverse lifestyles among people over 50. This means looking carefully at how they represent older people in ads.

Older women in particular are seen as a uniform mass by advertisers. As a 54-year-old woman with a successful business and active life, I don’t relate to the Tesco woman at all and I don’t find many other ads portraying older women whose images strike a chord with me.

Marianne Fotheringham

London SW6

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