The elderly are a growing sector of society and an ever-increasing spending demographic. If your digital marketing efforts are looking to target an older audience, this blog might be worth reading.
Marketing to the grey pound can be very profitable if executed correctly.
The current generation of 55-75-year-olds, also known as baby boomers, have benefitted from rising property values, social mobility, and decent pensions during their working lives. As a result, they now have a bounty of retirement funds.
With more than 31% of the world’s population set to be aged 60 and over by 2050, this is a demographic with spending power your brand can’t afford to neglect now and looking to the future.
To ignore an older audience in favour of capturing the young and hoping to build brand loyalty would be a mistake. With so much choice on the market, consumers in every age bracket rarely stick with one option and are always open to trying something new.
Seniors are not only spenders; they’re (potential) online shoppers. Despite stereotypes, middle-aged and older consumers are increasingly present online, especially since the pandemic. According to Ofcom, as of 2021:
86% use a smartphone.
94% use the internet at home.
70% correctly identify advertising on Google.
73% have a social media profile.
55% use a smartphone.
77% use the internet at home.
58% correctly identify advertising on Google.
59% have a social media profile.”
But there are still challenges to marketing your product or service to the older generation. They must be targeted efficiently and responsibly, with their needs and limitations considered. However, a patronising attitude should be avoided at all costs.
Sound like a tricky balance to strike? Follow these tips to guide your marketing approach to success with the grey pound.
Locating Your Older Audience Online
If a tree falls in the forest with no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? If a marketer releases a campaign via TikTok, will the older generation see it? You see what we’re getting at here…
As the recent Ofcom report found,
“the pandemic had been the catalyst for a step-change in digital skills for some participants. Several participants with limited digital skills had embraced new technology and become more confident online.”
While social media and general internet use among the elderly is on the rise, it’s worth considering what areas of the web our grannies and grandads spend most of their time.
While teens and twenty-somethings’ usual haunts are TikTok and Instagram, the 65+ bracket might seek distraction and connection elsewhere:
“Facebook was most popular among older social media users – 91% of social media users aged 65+ had a Facebook profile and 83% considered it to be their main social media account.”
Facebook isn’t the only online destination you’ll find the older consumer. According to Search Engine Journal,
“The Pinterest user base continues to expand, and adults are using this platform to shop with an 85% growth in recent months.”
Tailoring Your Tone of Voice to an Older Audience
Being in the right place is one thing, but speaking the right language is another.
We’re all familiar with those condescending equity release TV adverts featuring elderly gardeners or knitters who address the viewer slowly, with over-emphasised friendliness and a manic smile. Don’t take a leaf out of their book.
If they’re present in the market, older consumers still have all of their wits about them, so address them as such. If you were to go into a shop and have a retail assistant attempt to make your purchasing decisions, you wouldn’t be satisfied with the service you’d received. Ads that take the same tone have the same impact.
Contrary to the common belief that older consumers are dedicated to a single brand and will not deviate unless forced, recent research shows:
“The new materialistic and active vision of the post-modern elderly is associated with an attitude more likely to engage in risk, even for recreational purposes; for example, the ever-increasing number of elderly people who gamble.”
In terms of online consumption, this is reflected in a willingness and even an active pursuit of new products, services and brands. However, don’t presume that makes it easy for your brand to swoop in and catch their interest. A research paper by Guido, Ugolini and Sestino finds,
“While receptive to marketing, these elderly people are also more selective and less impressionable because their psycho-social profile is that of people who are very committed and strongly oriented towards the future, aware of everything that could preclude the continuation of their active lifestyle. These new consumers do not pay attention to advertisements and messages that do not consider their needs and experiences and are more complex to reach. Thus, they are more sensitive to the price of products and promotional incentives, more likely to try new products, and have greater knowledge in shopping.”
To win their hearts and wallets, consider the elderly consumer as an informed and active purchaser, enthusiastic about promotions and selective with their loyalty.
While we may jokingly refer to old age as second infancy, older consumers are not stupid. They’ve been around long enough to know a thing or two and do their research before purchasing, so brands should pull out all the stops to please them.
Identifying With the Lifestyle of Older Consumers
People are living longer, medical care is improving, and medicines are available that maintain quality of life and physical fitness for much longer than ever before. The average pensioner is much more physically mobile, active, and health-concerned than ten years ago.
In this sense, many 60+ consumers don’t identify with the doddery and fragile representations of the elderly favoured by, for example, funeral plan adverts.
This demographic is more interested in the travel, fitness, and luxury markets than the generations before due to their affluence, health, adventurous motivations, and abundance of spare time.
Products like package holidays, online yoga classes, specialist running shoes, luxury skincare and handbags aren’t immediately associated with the elderly. However, older consumers are more likely to have disposable income, desire to keep active, and time to invest in such markets.
Brands should portray their products as ageless or non-age related, focusing on USPs, features and benefits that do not relate specifically to age.
Providing Accessibility to Older Consumers
While the oldest in society live substantially longer than previously, physical access issues inevitably do still arise with age. To put things into perspective, Ofcom findings reveal
“Older internet users, aged 65+, were less likely to go online via most devices asked about, and in particular, they were less likely to have adopted smart technology, such as a smartphone, smart TV, or smart speaker. However, they exhibited a preference for larger-screen devices; they were more likely than any other age group to use a computer to go online (87%) and just as likely as the average internet user to use a tablet to go online.”
Changes in hearing, sight and dexterity can be barriers to a fully-realised online retail experience, but they don’t have to be. Even if your brand does not directly and explicitly target an elderly audience, putting accessibility measures in place avoids excluding them and others from your content.
Older shoppers are willing to try out new brands and deviate from their ‘normal’ purchases, but only if the option is accessible, approachable and attractive to them as a consumer.
Need help tailoring your digital marketing approach to an older audience? Or any other audience? Let dmt take the reins! Our PPC, paid social, and email marketing services are designed to scale and streamline your marketing efforts for max results. Get in touch!