Ten Rules of Marketing for Older Audiences
These ten rules are distilled from our research report, ‘Marketing for Mature Audiences’, which is available upon request (see below). They are not intended to be definitive and your comments and suggestions will be welcomed.
1. There are no ‘golden bullets’ This is a group of people that is too large to ignore, too diverse to stereotype and too complex to second-guess. Make sure your marketing is based upon proprietary consumer insight, not received wisdom.
2. Think of individuals, not groups. Mass marketing is an outmoded concept: so why think of ‘older people’ or ‘the over-50s’ as a single homogenous group?
3. It’s about ageing, not age. This isn’t just about old people, it is about population ageing. This has implications for every business, as your customer profile continues to age.
4. Do not overtly target ‘older people’. We know how old we are, you don’t need to remind us. If you are more subtle and convince us that you meet our needs, we might be interested.
5. Think differently. Old assumptions may no longer apply. For example, while household income declines quite steeply after the age of 50, wealth and expenditure are at their peak for the 50-64 age group.
6. Be more inclusive and less ageist. Many guidelines on marketing for older people assume that physical or mental decline are inevitable. In fact, these are issues which apply to people of all ages and should be addressed by an inclusive approach to all aspects of the marketing mix. Furthermore, many older people are mentally and physically active into their 90s and beyond.
7. Age is relative. Our own age dictates not just when we think ‘youth ends’ and ‘old age begins’ but also our perceptions of the attributes associated with old age. Make sure that your marketing is consumer-driven and not at the mercy of 25 year old marketers or agency staff.
8. Don’t target by generation. Treat ‘generational marketing’ definitions with caution. In the UK, terms such as ‘Baby boomers’ and ‘Generation X’ provide no useful consumer insight and members of such groups share little other than the period in which they were born.
9. Think across age groups. There is almost always more than one age group involved in any purchasing process. An obvious example is the involvement of adult children in the purchase of retirement housing and care homes. The audience for many brands is likely to span different generations, as consumer attitudes, need and interests are seldom shaped by age alone.
10. Walk the talk. If you care about older people so much, why not employ some? And please, think about all aspects of the customer experience, not just your communications.
These ‘rules’ run the inevitable risk of seeming facile and self-contradictory. We welcome your views and would love to discuss any aspect of this subject with you. Better still, if you’re a client company, why not let us apply our ‘rules’ to your business?
About our research
‘Marketing and Mature Audiences’ is a research report which provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject of marketing and older, more mature, audiences in the UK . It provides an interpretative summary of more than 250 data and research sources. The report was written by Mark Beasley of RHC Advantage, with the input of two University Professors. The full report document is available upon request. The main findings of the report form the basis of a 45 minute presentation which we really enjoy making.
About RHC Advantage
RHC Advantage is the UK’s only independent marketing agency specialising in adult, older, more mature audiences. The directors are: Mark Beasley, an experienced marketing consultant and planner, formerly a WPP group agency planning director; Richard Collyer, a successful creative and design consultant; and Tom Wright CBE (non-executive), who is Chief Executive of Age UK, the UK’s largest age-based charity. The agency provides consultancy and creative services to its clients. www.rhcadvantage.co.uk