Billions in a blind spot: The demographic marketers can no longer afford to ignore

Nunn Media Sydney's head of strategy and innovation Georgia Butler, says marketers are out of excuses when it comes to prioritising the 55 to 64 age group, the largest share of household wealth in Australia.

Two weeks ago Nine and Kantar released ‘Blindspot’, a timely piece of research which identified Australians aged 55–64 as a new power group of highly valuable ‘Super Consumers’. It found that this power posse is not only the fastest growing age cohort in the last two decades, they also have the largest share of household wealth in any age bracket and are responsible for up to $2.3 billion in weekly household spending.

While the research was enlightening, it left out one key point; not only are they a highly desirable target audience, they’re also, thanks to COVID lockdowns, cheaper and easier to reach than they’ve ever been before. Marketers are out of excuses when it comes to prioritising this audience.

We’ve long been aware that our population is ageing, but until recently it’s been assumed older consumers are an unappealing cohort for marketers. They’ve been pigeonholed as low-income tight-wads who can’t afford high-end brands and wouldn’t buy them if they could. Yet this research finds, 80% are willing to spend on Chanel, and 64% on new cars. This, in the face of a pandemic that has threatened not only our nation’s health, but also our economy, if perhaps not theirs.

There’s a prevailing assumption that trends don’t matter when you’re over 55, and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks (or sell an old dog new kicks). Clearly this is untrue, and it’s time we started thinking differently about older audiences, especially when it comes to high-end and luxury brands, including auto, fashion and travel.

In fact, it’s time we stopped thinking of them as ‘old’ altogether. Their swelling numbers and high discretionary spend suggest they may soon be the marketing ‘mainstream’.

Cashed up and seeking the finer things

If you happen to know anyone in their late fifties or early sixties, perhaps it won’t surprise you to notice that they feel more like J-Lo than Blanche Devereaux. They care about fashion, film, fun, music, technology and travel, and now they can afford to do it how they want.

They’re also increasingly active in social media, leaders in the workforce and highly influential in their communities, providing advice and expertise to their adult children and millennial colleagues.

Over the past two years, we’ve all had to adapt to living with lockdowns. For the 55+ community, this has propelled many to shift away from browsing and trying on items in person and into brand exploration online. This in turn has opened up new opportunities for brands to reach older Aussies without breaking the media budget. But perhaps none more notably than the luxury marketing sector.

So why the delay?

In defence of marketers, 55–64 has long been one of the most expensive demographics to reach in paid media. They still watch free-to-air TV, read newspapers and listen to radio – the three most costly channels available to media buyers.

However, the tide has turned for digital channels as a result of ongoing COVID lockdowns. 55+ audiences are accelerating their adoption of eCommerce and digital publications, and found new tech-utility for daily life, from online banking and shopping to video conferencing and streaming.

Online path to purchase data from the Global Web Index show 59% of baby boomers research products online before buying, higher than any other generation, while 32% use social media as a discovery channel for new brands or products and 74% have purchased an online product in the last month. These behaviour changes have made this demographic cheaper to reach than ever before through more cost effective and highly targeted digital channels.

So if you’re still not convinced that the new ‘Super Consumer’ is a worthy buying target for your brand, there is now an affordable opportunity to prove it. It won’t take a million dollar national TV campaign to validate or disprove the stance – they’re using social and digital channels more than ever before.

So now it’s less a question of ‘can I afford to target 55+’, and more a question of, ‘can I afford not to?’.

Georgia Butler is the head of strategy and innovation for Nunn Media Sydney.


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