Same old story with marketing

A great Factfile on the over-50s (MW May 15) – of course we should be adopting a more segmented approach to targeting them. With the majority of our population falling within this group and representing 80 per cent of the UK’s wealth, why aren’t marketers waking up and smelling the coffee?

Can it really be as simple as a youth-dominated industry finding it difficult to engage with a mature population? There is a huge gap between perceptions and the reality of this market. Over-50s are still people, with likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests, spending patterns, needs and attitudes. OK, some advertisers are starting to get there, like Gap with its recent “for every generation” campaign, but there remain wide spread misconceptions, not least that mature consumers are incapable technophobes and internet use is dominated by the young.

There is plenty of independent evidence to the contrary, not least from our own Grey Rainbow research. E-mail is most commonly used as a communication tool by fiftysomethings, but increasing numbers of those aged 70-plus are taking to the Net too. While the motivation for learning to use the Net is keeping in touch with family and friends, once they have grasped the basics, these individuals are quick to extend their usage for information sourcing, online shopping and banking.

The Net is just one example of how the over-50s are bucking the “blue rinse brigade” preconception. Mobile phones, cars, cosmetics, clothes, holidays – this market is of paramount importance to all of these products yet how often do you see a pensioner in their advertising?

It is no wonder that mature consumers feel patronised and are demanding and expectant of high levels of customer communications and servicing. There is huge potential in this virtually untapped market. If only marketers would try to understand the complexities and attitudes of mature consumers and look beyond the broad-brush “grey market” for effective targeting.

Anne Edwards

Strategic services director

Target Direct

Cheltenham

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