Ageing Audiences – Where Marketers Get it Wrong

We don’t often consider those in their golden years to be a part of the internet age, but should we? Read on to discover why your digital marketing strategy should be reaching out to ageing audiences.

First, let’s start with the stats…

Despite figures overwhelmingly suggesting the contrary, the industry still falls back on stereotypes that the elderly demographic are both incapable and uninterested in using the internet.  

In fact, ONS stats suggest that about 80% of U.K. adults aged 55 and over are online. The proportion of those 75 and over using the internet has nearly doubled in the past seven years.

Google’s research suggests that the majority of seniors that are connected spend at least six hours a day online, and own an average of five devices. Goodbye fax machine, hello iPad. 

The many reasons the elderly turn to the internet to help with their daily activities. Source: Google

As any digital marketer worth their salt knows, every internet user is a potential online consumer. We’re so caught up in the latest TikTok antics of Gen Z that we forget grandma’s still got some purchasing power left in that pension 👵🏼💲

What makes the elderly an attractive digital marketing audience?

Believe it or not, many of today’s grandparents were only in their 30s when the first internet browser was introduced. Most of their adult lives have been dominated by the huge cultural changes fuelled by developing tech. They aren’t necessarily as clueless or disconnected as the stereotypes would have you think. Many were and still are open to learning about new technologies. Believe it or not, our desire and capacity to learn new skills don’t expire at 30.

Adults love Youtube as much as teens. Source: Google

It’s common knowledge that the younger generation are ditching TV in favour of TikTok and YouTube, but it’s little known that the elderly are following suit.

EMarketer estimates that all baby boomers will watch 5.7% less TV this year than in 2020, with continuing declines into 2022, while Comscore reports that time spent watching YouTube videos among adults 55 and over grew by 10% from May 2020 to May 2021.” – Google

Changes in where the elderly spend their spare time require responsive action from marketers to ensure their strategy is reaching the consumer. 

And, lest we forget, the pandemic has played a role in significantly speeding up the evolution of the digital senior. Many elderly shoppers haven’t returned to the shops for their groceries since the end of lockdown. They prefer to stick with the online ordering systems that operate around their needs and schedule rather than face the challenges of modernised in-person retail. Those whose health is compromised may still feel uncomfortable braving crowded spaces, especially now that masks are not universally required.

At a time when traditional in-person retail is less and less accessible to the elderly, it’s a great chance for e-com to step up and welcome them. Take this example of a local paper lamenting the normalisation of fully automated checkout systems in supermarkets. 

So, how can you make sure your digital marketing strategy appeals to OAPs?

With seniors’ digital savviness only likely to increase in the coming years, here are three things to focus on to ensure their engagement with your brand:

Understand:

Listen to the data and insights. These will keep you way more accurately informed than outdated assumptions and stereotypes. Relying on those could make you the one who’s out of touch…

Be There:

Be where your audience is. YouTube is the platform that springs to mind based on the stats, and because it’s used as both a source of information and entertainment. Increase your investment where they increase theirs in order to build awareness, familiarity, and eventually, trust. 

Prioritise:

Prioritise high-value audiences, rather than broad ones. Data is your friend. Use the diverse and informative set of intent signals available on YouTube to inform your strategy and reach your most valuable consumers.

Who should we be taking cues from?

In China, where elderly internet users are so prolific that they’re branching into influencer territory, both private companies and the government are adapting their vision of the ‘standard’ internet user. Law changes, accessibility features, and digital literacy plans are all being put in place.


84 year-old Chinese influencer Grandpa Kang boasts almost 800k TikTok followers.

Like China, the UK has an increasingly ageing population, so perhaps we have a thing or two to learn from their example…

What steps will you take to target and attract OAPs with your brand’s online presence? Looking to mix things up? Contact DMT to discover more about our services in Paid Social, PPC, Email Marketing and more.