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Here’s what we know:

Marketers are ignoring or stereotyping older consumers, who, in reality, wield enormous consumer influence: Global spending is expected to hit $15 trillion next year. Smart business leaders will position themselves to take advantage of the massive opportunities posed by an aging population. As one YouAreUNLTD reader put it: “We have spending power, attitude and numbers, so please give us our own recognition and identity.” 

In their UNLTD Live session, Aging as a Powerful Market Driver, Cass Enright, YouAreUNLTD’s managing director, digital, and Jeff Weiss, CEO, Age of Majority, tapped into this desire, discussing the myths and realities of older Canadians. 
  1. Myth: Older people have one foot in the grave, getting older is depressing.
    Reality: Consumers are happiest between the ages of 65-79. They have the time, money and desire to fully explore their strong sense of adventure. 
  2. Myth: Older people are tech-challenged and adverse. 
    Reality: People 55+ are among the leading adopters and drivers of many tech devices and services.  70 percent use search engines to find what they’re after.
  3. Myth: Older consumers aspire to be younger. 
    Reality: Older consumers are not longing to revisit their youth. People want to look and feel good, but for the age they are. They plan to age differently than previous generations and are looking for products and services to help them along the way. 
The duo outlined 8 key insights: 
  1. The way most businesses talk to aging consumers is outdated and even insulting.
  2. There is too much FOMO – Focusing on Millennials Only. 
  3. Estimates of consumer spending by demographic are grossly misaligned.
  4. Older adults spend much more than marketers think they do.  
  5. Millennials spend about half as much as marketers think they do.
  6. Older adults control between 70 and 80 percent of wealth.
  7. Only 5 to 10 percent of marketing spend is geared towards older adults.
  8. Businesses that fix the imbalance (that doesn’t mean ignoring Millennials) stand to reap the rewards.
Enright and Weiss examined how the majority of marketers speak to an aging population, pointing out that too often advertising perpetuates stereotypes that make a mockery out of getting older. In most cases, marketers don’t speak to the active aging population at all, opting instead to invest in targetting Millennials. Big mistake.
“The way most businesses talk to the aging consumer is not relevant anymore and it hasn’t been in a while,” says Enright. “It’s like a new continent is rising out of the sea and that’s this new demographic.”
There are 1.6 billion people aged 50 or older in the world. That number is expected to double over the next three decades. People are living longer in better health and with more wealth. Canada already houses a population of 9.6 million Boomers—almost one in every three residents. 
The duo emphasized the massive gap between what marketers think people 55+ spend and the reality. Some examples of these gaps include:
  • Food: $7 billion  
  • Automobiles: $2 billion
  • Personal care products: $1.5 billion 
  • Entertainment: $1 billion 
  • Financial services: $1 billion 
That’s a whole lot of missed opportunities to drive brand loyalty and provide innovative products and services that speak to the needs and desires of an older demographic. 
Enright and Weiss encourage business leaders to reposition current brands, add new products to the mix or rethink the customer experience to connect with older consumers. 
They emphasized ageism in advertising as a good place to start the shift. Older adults should take centre stage in the creative brief, banish outdated imagery (no more stock images of walking on the beach or looking confused when using technology) and adjust tone and language.
Enright highlighted YouAreUNLTD’s approach, which showcases the older demographic as vibrant engaged individuals with interests and concerns that span intimacy and sexual health, as well as nutrition, meaningful travel, elite athleticism, careers and healthy solutions to enable them to age differently than previous generations. 
“Content not coupons and complexity not clips,” says Enright of the best way to communicate with active agers. “This audience wants rich, deep content backed by evidence.”

UNLTD Influencers. UNLTD Possibilities. 

Connect with the new aging consumer.

Contact us today to book a meeting
Or, contact Anne Marie Wright, Partner at YouAreUNLTD directly.
In the coming days and weeks, we will be rolling out content delving into the themes and personalities discussed during UNLTD Live. Be informed, JOIN OUR NETWORK.
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