ILC (UK) publish ‘Golden Economy’ report
A new research project has recently been published by the ILC-UK (International Longevity Centre). The report - ‘The Golden Economy - The Consumer Marketplace in an Ageing Society’ - assesses the market potential of the older consumer and suggests how companies could make more of this population.
The report provides a useful introduction to the subject and is based upon a thorough study of the available sources. For anyone who is familiar with the subject, there is some ‘new news’ – additional sources to support a particular point, for example – but no revelations. And for people new to the subject, it is of course a useful introduction.
However, what is most significant about the report is what it does not, and cannot, say. As the report itself says, ‘There are significant research gaps in relation to the older consumer.’
One of these gaps concerns business and marketing activity relative to older consumers. Many of us are keen to state, for example, that despite the size and value of the ‘older’ market, “some 90% of marketing spend is directed at younger people” (as one commentator recently did). However, the evidence base for this assertion is weak, to say the least (I think it comes from an old Datamonitor report). And to be honest, I am not even sure what methodology one might employ to produce this statistic.
The ‘Golden Economy’ report contains much that is admirable. However, in the key area of marketing activity and spend directed at older people it remains delightfully vague. For example, consider the statement (from the report) that: ‘there remains a strong view that across a wide range of industries, the older consumer continues to be ignored or patronised, despite the size and value of the market’. I agree, but that’s just my opinion, not a research finding. In fact, this statement does not stand up to much analysis at all. What does a ’strong view’ mean? Across which industries? How do you measure concepts such as ‘ignored’ and ‘patronised’? Are these subjective or objective measures? This statement is an informed opinion, but it is a long way from being a definitive research-based ‘fact’.
This is not intended as a criticism of the report, but to highlight a gap in the available research literature. It is up to those of us concerned with providing older people with a better deal to provide much more powerful evidence to support our case. Rhetoric and unsupported assertions are not good enough.
You can find out more about our own comprehensive research report, Marketing and Mature Audiences which was written by marketers for marketers, and we are happy to present top line findings to interested parties.
The ‘Golden Economy’ report is written from more of a third sector and public affairs standpoint – not surprising as it was produced in association with Age UK – and is available on the ILC-UK website