Let's banish tired stereotypes about the over 50s

Moving away from stereotypes and building lucrative relationships

With 25,000,000+ UK consumers aged 50+, Let’s Talk Ageing's Graeme McKenzie argues it’s now time to embrace this audience.

With nearly 94% of the UK advertising industry currently aged under 50, based on the 2021 IPA Agency Census, it can be difficult to relate to this highly complex and diverse older audience. It’s hardly surprising that up to 85% of older consumers feel that advertising isn’t relevant to them – so how do we go about changing this perception.

A good place to start is to consider this audience not as one vast group of 50+ individuals, which we can be all guilty of doing at times, but to recognise that there are many different cohort groups, each with their own subtle, but distinctive behavioural traits and attitudes.

By segmenting the 50+ audience into specific cohort groups, it allows us to better understand their needs and goals, as well as being able to communicate with them more effectively.

Breaking the 50+ audience down into specific cohort groups and reaching them cost-effectively

Whilst there are many constantly evolving cohort groups within the 50+ audience, three distinct groups can be identified and to optimise engagement and response with these groups, it’s essential to build in targeted plans using multi-channel strategies.

Group 1: aged between 50-64

Numbering over 12,000,000, this group can mostly be classified as risk-takers. They are time-poor and impatient, the majority are still in full-time employment but fearful of losing their jobs. They continue to repay mortgages and financially support children, and are able to take regular exercise, with many leading a relatively healthy existence.

  • This audience is highly tech-savvy and confident using all digital channels, with 97% having accessed the internet in the past three months and 86% using the internet on a daily basis
  • Media consumption is mainly online, this group are confident with online transacting, including online banking & retail purchasing
  • Core channels to actively test include digital, social media and email

Group 2: aged between 65-74

Numbering over 6,500,000, the majority of this group are recently retired or established retirees, many have paid off their mortgages, enjoy learning new experiences and spending more time with their family. Many reduce their levels of regular exercise and have increasing levels of poor health.

  • Many of this cohort group mirror Group 1’s positive digital confidence and channel preferences
  • However, there are increasing numbers of less tech-savvy and lower users of many digital and social channels, including email, with 86% having accessed the internet in the past three months and only 67% using the internet on a daily basis
  • Media consumption is a mixture of both digital and also traditional channels
  • Core channels to actively test include digital, radio, direct mail, media/ door drop inserts and press advertising

Group 3: aged 75+

Numbering over 5,500,000, the majority of this group are low-risk takers, having been brought up in a period of austerity and thriftiness. They have a strong desire to be independent and not a burden on society, with many experiencing increasing levels of poor health, care needs, loneliness and isolation

  • Whilst digital usage is growing, this Group demonstrates reduced levels of digital activity with less than 54% of this Group having accessed the internet in the past three months. They remain very low users of many digital and social channels, including email
  • Media consumption should be focussed more on primarily traditional media channels
  • Core channels to actively test include direct mail, media/ door drop inserts, press advertising, TV and radio

Let’s banish the stereotype view of the 50+ audience and build lucrative relationships with them in the future

So, to connect and engage more intelligently with this highly complex and diverse audience, it makes sense to take steps to segment this audience into specific cohort groups.

Communicate with them with more targeted and relevant messages and by using channels that your audiences prefer, your clients are more likely to experience more lucrative results because of this.

Graeme McKenzie is Director of Let’s Talk Ageing, who will be speaking at the IPA session 'Representing over 50s in advertising' on 13 July.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the author and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 20 June 2022