Marketers facing up to demographic change

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First, a couple of dates for your diary. Marketing Week’s last issue of the year is next week’s edition of the magazine, dated 15 December. We’ll be back in the New Year with an edition of Marketing Week on the 5 January. We have some great content ready to ease you through that miserable first week back in work after Christmas.

While I’m on the subject of Marketing Week, the senior leaders from across our business have been meeting in recent weeks to discuss plans for the next 12-18 months. As part of those sessions, our associate editors Ruth Mortimer and Branwell Johnson and I have presented what we see as the important themes that will feature in our 2012 coverage.

It’s interesting that a couple of pieces this week highlight one of those trends – changing consumer demographics. Our cover story details the brand strategies that are being activated around a demographic that has been named ‘silver separators’. Research shows that the only age group in the UK for whom separation and divorce is on the rise is the over-60s – a broadly cash-rich generation with a desire for new beginnings.

One of our past cover stories detailed how some brands are already preparing for the 100-year-old consumer. According to The Lancet, half of all babies born since 2000 will live to be 100 years old. Brands as diverse as Aviva, Nintendo and Harley-Davidson are already building products to take advantage of this.

While the concept of ‘old-age’ is changing, there are also new trends and behaviours to learn at the other end of the consumer lifecycle.

Marketing Week takes an exclusive look at research carried out by ad agency Karmarama and research company Dipsticks that details the needs, desires and values of five different consumer segments between the ages of 18 and 24. The Prince’s Trust launched an ad campaign this week to highlight the struggle these young people are facing and to warn against a generation of young people becoming “lost” by “record-breaking” levels of youth unemployment.

But more and more brands are recognising the importance of engaging with this generation. Earlier this year, for example, B&Q created a “youth board” to get teenagers’ advice to help tackle the challenges facing the company and to encourage young people to get into business.

I’m not describing the ‘end of history’ when it comes to our understanding of demographic and customer insights, but if we acknowledge that we’re facing some events and situations that are the first of their kind (at least in living memory), then it follows that tribes of people affected by those changes are going to adopt new ways of living.

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