Marketing to the yawning over fifties

The article by Torin Douglas on Saga Radio (MW February 1) beautifully illustrates the yawning chasm between the fantasy world some marketers inhabit and the realities of business.

The article does a good job of covering some of the issues involved in marketing to the mature sector. Inadvertently Douglas even covers the crucial subject of communication and branding issues by expressing shock at receiving a Saga mailing just after his 50th birthday.

But then we get hit with the bombshell. A statement of monumental barminess that illustrates the divide between too many marketing departments and the real business world. Douglas asks: “what client is going to admit to aiming at the over-50s anyway?”

This highlights the fact that too much marketing is about self-image. It is more important than the bottom line. Spin is preferred to substance and consequently most effort is concentrated on the poorer, shrinking youth markets.

This is ironic because thrivers, those aged between 50 and 59 years old, largely pursue the same interests as those 20 and even 30 years younger tha

n themselves. They have an active interest in sports, they take long haul holidays and drive sports cars and sports utility vehicles.

The key differences are that they spend a lot more money on them, and they do not respond to advertising aimed at younger sectors.

Some recent research we conducted, mailed to over 1 million households, revealed that 86 per cent of respondents felt that the majority of advertising they saw was of no relevance to them.

What is more, the mature sector will become even more important. When the first wave of post-baby boomers reach 50, we will have 11 million consumers with unprecedented spending power.

If most marketers take a lead from Douglas and are too ashamed to embrace the sector then those that are the exception to the rule will reap ever bigger rewards from their investments.

Naomi Watkins

Account director

Millennium Direct

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