A grey market clouded by woolly thinking

It is great to see Marketing Week giving such prominence to the “grey market” – a ghastly term, but one we all understand (MW October 28).

Like most articles on this subject, your cover story contained contrasting opinions about the relationship between ageing and brand promiscuity. As usual, Simon Silvester’s report, You’re Getting Old, is quoted promoting the view that the over-35s have fixed brand repertoires. Neither this nor any of the other reports often wheeled out in defence of this statement contain any research evidence to support the proposition.

There are undoubtedly parts of the grey market that have a low propensity to change brands, as there are in each age cohort. But the concept that ageing changes our brand behaviour, in the same way as our eyesight deteriorates, is not supported by the facts – have a look at the research from OMD, Millennium, DDB/Accenture and AARP.

The brand behaviour of the grey market deserves a rigorous debate, but it should be one based on research, not on prejudice and stereotypes.

Jo Rigby

Head of research

OMD UK

London W2

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