They love to indulge in new experiences, they embrace technology, they travel a lot, they spend the most on fancy goods and they ignore the vast majority of advertising. The over 55s in Ireland should be a marketer’s dream, but by and large are being ignored by a youth-obsessed ad industry.
New research by MediaVest Ireland, “to better understand the over 55s in Ireland”, has revealed some interesting facts that should impact the advertising, marketing and communications sectors.
Firstly, the over 55s generation in Ireland sees itself as experiencing a completely new life stage – in no way does this generation think it is ‘fading away’ without recognition.
Secondly, this generation is far more tech savvy than any brand, advertiser, or agency that gives it credit. The over 55s see technology as “enabling”. They have embraced smartphones and tablets, apps and social media. They see digital tools as being “liberating”.
Thirdly, and most importantly for marketers, this generation is not brand loyal – in any way. Over 55s are less brand loyal than any other age group of Irish consumers. They just don’t care what brands they consume. However, they will actively look for brands and products that reflect their new life stage. The irony is, brands and advertisers ignore them completely, and as a result, this generation ignores advertising. (Why do you think the supermarkets spend so much money on full colour print ads in newspapers? It’s price, choice and quality that matter to this generation, not the brand.)
“In recent years we have seen advertisers create entirely new brands to target younger 18-25 year old audiences, e.g. 48 (from O2) and No Nonsense (part of FBD), because they feel the parent brand isn’t well placed to speak to this “different” audience. However, it seems bizarre that they don’t afford the same diligence to the older, hungrier and more lucrative group,” says MediaVest Ireland.
On average, the over 55s live 14 years longer than their parents. The concept of a healthy, long, and in many cases relatively prosperous retirement, is a reality for many of them. It’s also a brand new phenomenon in Irish society.
“It hasn’t existed to this extent ever before,” says MediaVest. “They started lives, jobs, and families much younger than we do now. They missed out on the modern 20-something wanderlust years, and they are looking to experience it now – traveling more, taking up third level degrees in record numbers, socialising, and exploring new hobbies.”
A recent IAPI census listed the average age of someone working in advertising as 35, an age profile very similar to those in marketing departments. “Is this causing an unwitting ‘youth’ bias in advertising?” asks MediaVest.
The obvious answer is for agencies and companies to hire and seek advice from older marketers. “Brands who move into this space first [properly targeting the over 55s] will gain significant advantages,” says the agency.