Why are marketers stepping over pounds to pick up pennies?

Photo: Barry Wetcher

Recently I read article in The Marketer, in essence it looks at marketing to baby boomers or those over 55. Rather than looking at the UK in general I thought it would be a good idea to look at Wales independently.

According to the Stats Wales website, in 2010 19% of the Welsh population were over 65, only 12% of the population were 16 to 24. (Unfortunately the data isn’t broken down to look at over 55’s) Here’s the full breakdown by age of the Welsh population in 2010.


Even though there are more over 45’s than 16 to 25 year olds, the majority of marketing is still aimed at the younger generation. The article in The Marketer put this down to the age of marketers, and thinks they are targeting people their own age because they can relate to them. The article also points out that people think the demographic shift is something someone else can worry about later.

Why wait for someone else to worry about the over 65’s when they hold 80% of the national wealth?

Too many people think this age group are over the hill, they are still very much perceived as the ‘pipe and slippers’ generation. Don’t forget those that are around 65 now were in their twenties in the 70’s! It wasn’t that long ago when they were going to see the Beach Boys, Led Zepplin and U2 in concert. Mums and Nan’s everywhere are immersed in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which couldn’t be further from the ‘pipe and slippers’ stereotype.

What about those who were in their 30’s and 40’s in the 70’s? Let me tell you about my Nan who is in her 80’s. Recently she sold her house in London and relocated to her second home by the sea and drives a sports car. To unwind she goes on holiday around several times a year, when she isn’t jetting off round the world she likes to ‘lunch’ with her friends Betty and Yvonne. They often potter round the local shops but also like coach day trips to Swindon shopping outlet and other areas of the country. In the evenings they can often be found in the theatre and she has been known to go and watch the Chippendales! Now I do appreciate that my Nan and her friends are particularly active, but they certainly aren’t the only pensioners that lead a better lifestyle than me.

Too put it into perspective I will tell you a little bit about myself. I’m in my late 20’s and last year was a big year for me, I purchased my first house and got married. I work full time, which means I spend most evenings during the week unwinding with my two dogs Crunch and Freckle. We generally eat out on a Saturday and spend the rest of the weekend walking the dogs and doing odd jobs round the house.

Yet the majority of companies, marketers and even media companies overlook my Nan and her friends. Instead they favour the younger generation, but let me tell you about them:

  • University graduates leave with an average of £26,000 debt
  • Youth unemployment figures for Welsh 16-24 year olds is 23.7%
  • The average age of a first time buyer in Wales is 36, many of them receive financial help from their family for the deposit.

Not only do the baby boomers have more disposable wealth than many of those younger than them, they also have more free time to spend it. Just because they may not use the latest technologies or be familiar with new media, doesn’t mean they aren’t exposed to traditional media.

Of course there are a number of pensioners that live in financial hardship. I’ve just come across this recent headline ‘Ageing population to put another £65bn burden on the public purse’. But don’t let that put you off tapping into this affluent generation.

Generally speaking the market is saturated with a multitude of products, being advertised through a number of different media platforms, all fighting to attract the ‘younger generation’. But remember the number of over 65’s is increasing and they currently hold 80% of the UK’s wealth. Maybe we need to stop stepping over pounds to pick up pennies!

If you have any fitting stories about the over 65’s, then please leave a comment below or get in touch by email jodi.stuart@realradio.co.uk or tweet me @realradiojodi

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1 Comment

  1. Tony Dowling

     /  July 19, 2012

    Great stuff Jodi!


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