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Marketing in the age of agelessness | Mumbrella360 video

Many of the purchasing decisions made by the over 50s market are made in spite of advertising says Nick Richardson, partner at Fifty Not Out, when introducing this panel from June's Mumbrella360 conference.

According to Richardson, fewer than 10% of marketing and advertising staff are over 50, and in some places that number is closer to zero.

It should come as no surprise, then, that “nine out of 10 people over the age of 50 don’t believe advertising is targeted to them, does not engage them and is not for them.”

“Ageism is everywhere,” says Richardson. “Ageism is why a 50-year-old can even be perceived as old. It defies common sense. A large proportion of 50-somethings these days still have young kids.

“Ageism masks reality with a photo stock image of silver-haired 60-somethings walking hand-in-hand on the beach. Fully clothed, of course.

“While advertisers continue to perpetuate this misguided view, the actual audience is tearing up the rule book of what it means to grow older.”

He goes on to explain how the idea of this market being some kind of specialised market is old: “They’re no more a niche market than women are.”

“This pyramid being a huge base of young people and a tiny tip of older people at the top has now become a rectangle. We’ve never had demographic geometry like this before.”

Only a small percentage of the 50-plus market are ‘pennywise pensioners’ – in fact, the market spends over half a billion dollars every day. “The overall wealth of this market grows by around $4,000 every second.”

Laura Demasi, director of research and social trends at Ipsos, tells the audience how one of the biggest myths about the 50-plus age group is that “this is not one group”.

“It’s insane to talk about 50-plus or even 55-plus… in no other context would a person of Jeff’s age and his mother’s age ever be seen as one group. They are not one group.”

Jeff Sanders, CEO, Beyond Analysis says: “In the advertising business when they say 50 they think 80, so the photos you get off this market are old codgers with a pipe and bad, bad shoes.”

The lack of ethnic diversity in advertising for the 50-plus market is another topic of discussion for the panel, with Demasi pointing out: “All older people are white, they all are, there’s nothing else.”

Brigitte Warne, managing director of 30-plus modelling agency Silverfox MGMT adds: “We see it when we’ve got clients wanting to book talent and they’ll say they want someone in their 50s, so we say ‘sure’, and send them through 10 different talent in their 50s and the one person they’ll pick out is the one woman that has grey hair.

“So there’s this misconception that if you’re over 50, the only way to target them is to chuck a grey-haired woman in there, and ‘that must be for 50-year-olds.”

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