Vancouver, BC (Press Release – November 21, 2011) – Boomers and their parents are over 110 million strong. With more than 2 trillion dollars in spending power, they are 47 times richer than their younger counterparts, and account for 55% of discretionary income in the United States. Yet, the vast majority of marketing dollars are spent on adults 35 and younger. In the United Kingdom, for example, a recent survey found that fully 95% of marketing dollars went to this younger age group. “That’s business suicide,” says Colin Milner, a leading authority on the 50+ market and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), a professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry.
“The 50+ consumer is virtually invisible to marketers,” states Milner. “And, when marketers do focus on this group, 75% of them get a failing grade. Older consumers say that marketing targeted to them is patronizing and stereotypical. Simply put, it fails to reflect their stage of life.”
What can marketers do? Milner offers five tips:
1. Take the time to fully understand this group’s needs, dreams, desires, expectations and capabilities.
2. Commit to the market by ensuring your products, services, staff, philosophies and procedures are in line with what this group is seeking.
3. Be visible in the places that older adults frequent for their information–television, newspapers, Facebook, to name a few.
4. Become an advocate for older consumers. Since 95% of marketers are not focusing on this group, those who do will reap significant rewards. The Dove Real Beauty campaign is a prime example.
5. Avoid graywashing.* “Don’t mislead consumers by promoting useless and expensive ‘anti-aging’ products or stating that a product or service is geared to ‘seniors’ if it really isn’t,” Milner says.
What will be the impact of making such changes? “A Nielsen study done a couple of years ago showed that, by ignoring Boomers, marketers could miss roughly $230 million in sales of consumer packaged goods alone, or around 55% of the overall sales in the United States,” Milner says. “However, the opposite is also true. Those who focus on this group in a meaningful way stand to gain their fair share of the older consumer’s business.
“The opportunity is unprecedented,” Milner stresses. “How marketers and businesses respond may very well dictate their future.” In May 2011, ICAA launched a groundbreaking initiative to help. Created to encourage more positive, realistic views of aging and shift society’s perceptions of aging, ICAA’s Changing the Way We Age® Campaign provides marketers and businesses with tools for reaching an older population as part of its Rebranding Aging program. These tools include ICAA’s communication guidelines aimed especially at media and marketers, with words and phrases to avoid and/or use sparingly, and appropriate substitutions; image recommendations; and strategies to use when preparing materials for older adults. Part one of these guidelines is posted in the “Rebranding Aging Toolkit” available in the “Media and marketers” section at http://www.changingthewayweage.com.
About the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)
The International Council on Active Aging® is the professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry. ICAA supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The association is focused on active aging–an approach to aging that helps older adults live as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness (i.e., physical, social, environmental, vocational, intellectual, emotional and spiritual)–and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools.
As an active-aging educator and advocate, ICAA has advised numerous organizations and governmental bodies, including the US Administration on Aging, the National Institute on Aging (one of the US National Institutes of Health), the US Department of Health and Human Services, Canada’s Special Senate Committee on Aging, European Commission, and the British Columbia ministries of Health, and Healthy Living and Sport.