Magazine article Marketing

The Grey Market Matures

Magazine article Marketing

The Grey Market Matures

Article excerpt

Danielle Barr urges marketers to take heed of the complex needs of older people

I am 53. This means I have entered the third age of life (50-74) and can expect to be ignored by shop assistants and marketing executives. As a person who has crossed the threshold into older age I am presumed to be poor, useless and set in my ways. I find it hard to reconcile this image with the fact that I have just made a trip to New Orleans on the back of a Harley Davidson.

Negative stereotyping of what being older is all about is no longer acceptable. Older people are healthier and more prosperous than at any point in history. We are the growth market. There are 14 million people in Britain between the ages of 50 and 74, a quarter of the population. By 2020 it is estimated there will be 18.5 million. We account for 30% of all consumer spending -- |pounds~95bn. Ignoring the over-50s is bad business sense, yet the marketing industry (with one or two honourable exceptions) insists on focusing its energies on a rapidly shrinking market -- young affluent adults.

The recession has hit young people hard. Research by my company, 3rd Age Marketing, suggests that older people today feel sorry for the young and are relieved that they do not have to begin their families in today's environment. Of course, there is a significant group who suffer poverty and disadvantage among older people. But growing numbers of better-off over-50s have unprecedented disposable income.

Another major finding is that the assumption that the brand loyalties of middle-aged people are fixed for life is false. Respondents said that they seek out products they have seen advertised, especially if convenience and enjoyment have been emphasised.

Older women feel that high street shops cater inadequately for their needs and preferences. Both sexes feel resentful when goods are aimed at the young. …

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