Betting on the over/under

by Jen Lomax

When we embarked on crafting the manifesto for our new consultancy, there was much debate about where to draw the proverbial line between ‘younger’ and ‘older’ consumers.  Specifically, which age – which single number – would Age of Majority use to define our perspective on the mature consumer market, and to frame the missed marketer opportunity?

On one hand, society and media have differing views of the over/under.  Our friends at the ICAA, and AARP, reference age 50, while the ‘Boomer’ generation (a moving-age-target) currently starts at age 53. And don’t get me started on the qualifying age for seniors discounts…

On the other hand, ironically, AoM is by principle anti-agism – and yet we can’t ignore the extent to which human chronological age plays an important role in defining and characterizing consumer segments.

For starters, many of life’s great milestones are closely tied to an average age and these milestones – think marriage, kids, retirement – significantly influence a consumer’s view of self and of the world.  Second, though it’s borderline against AoM’s principles to say so, humans tend to experience many physical and social changes, closely correlated with age, that dramatically change their functional needs.  Finally, there’s the reality that much of marketing execution is a numbers game – the government publishes stats by age, we purchase media by age, and so on.

As it turns out, the results of our 2017 US study of senior marketers and consumers made our decision rather simple:  55 years old.

Not only did age 55 reveal itself among consumers as a magic number for polarizing ‘younger’ and ‘older’ lifestyle, attitudes and behaviours (whether attributed to age, generation or otherwise is to come); but among senior marketers, 55 was a pivotal cut-off age for consumer research and creative development.  Plainly put, marketers are dramatically more likely to ignore consumers over the age of 55, than those whose age falls below this ‘magic’ number.

As a marketer myself, I would be irresponsible to conclude without acknowledging that the size of the older consumer market is even more compelling when we draw the proverbial line at age 50 (more people = greater dollars), but we believe that the REAL marketing gap and therefore the greatest growth opportunity for brands begins with looking at consumers age 55+.

Download our whitepaper learn more about the problem, the opportunity, and some of the marketing myths behind the issue.

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