The folly of youth: Adland fails to woo older shoppers

old youngThe advertising and marketing industry’s continuing obsession with Gen Z and Millennial consumers is alienating the most lucrative generation of the over-65s, who neither value nor enjoy advertising when compared to younger people.

That is according to a new report, “Older, Wiser, Richer and Disengaged”, by independent media agency The Kite Factory which also reveals that over 55s are 2.5 times wealthier than the rest of the population and not only do they have money – they are willing to spend it on discretionary items with high margins and will happily try new things and experiment.

While organisations such as Saga have been tapping this rich vein of wealth for decades, most brands have yet to recognise this potential goldmine.

Indeed the generation that advertising seems to have forgotten are far from ‘stuck in their ways’, the report maintains, but are instead open to spending their hard-earned money – outspending the average UK adult in most categories of goods and services measured by the ONS.

Yet only 16% of over 65s agree advertising influences their purchase decisions, and only 9% enjoy ads on TV.

The report claims there is a 330% gap between under 24s and over 65s, who say advertising influences their purchase decisions, with the older demographic being dismissive of most advertising. Fifteen years ago, this gap was as little as 20%.

It seems that advertising is simply letting older generations down, as their criteria for engaging with ads is relatively simple: relevance and humour. They want to see something that speaks directly to them, captures their attention, and, above all, makes them laugh.

Representation is a problem, too. The over 55s watch twice as much television as the average adult but are 30% less likely to see themselves in the commercials on screen.

So where has advertising gone wrong? The report identifies the four factors that have led mature audiences to engage less with advertising: a divergence in media consumption between young and old; a shift in where advertisers invest; the under-representation of over 50s in advertising; and, a change in advertising content.

From the whitepaper, The Kite Factory has highlighted the three essential steps for successfully advertising to the older generation:

Advertisers must surround themselves with the audience’s voice, whether that be by qualitative research or advisors who are closer to the demographic. In 2021, the average age of those working in creative and media agencies was 34 – only 1% of all agency employees were over 60.

Remembering that many “declining” media channels have a long shelf life – the older generation doesn’t trust digital media, preferring radio, TV and national and local press.

Finally, just because media research shows that impressions can be bought, doesn’t mean they will create those all important impacts and engagements. Advertisers need to ask themselves about the context of potential channels to invest in, and how it fits with the lives of the over 50s population.

The Kite Factory’s head of planning Christian Taylor said “At its simplest, advertisers have been so wrapped up in targeting younger generations, that they have forgotten about the over-50s.

“Twenty years ago, the over 60s enjoyed and valued advertising just as much as the rest of us, but today that’s not true. They don’t enjoy it, and unfortunately don’t see its value.

“The over 50s aren’t just grandparents, they’re an adventurous and financially free demographic rife with potential, if advertisers meet them in the middle.”

Related stories
Over 55 ‘Zenners’ are driving the home shopping boom 
Training gulf puts marketers ‘on the scrapheap’ at 55
Over 55s are ‘early adopters’ but don’t bother with ads
Over 55s spend more time on tablets than teens

Print Friendly