Who the hell said 50 was old?
When I was a teenager, people in their 50s seemed old, as I’m sure they did when you were a teen.
But now I can see that milestone approaching, albeit with the help of increasingly powerful prescription lenses, I don’t feel old at all. And neither do most people of my age and older.
In fact, a study by the Centre for Ageing Better, found that almost 72% of the 6000 people aged 50+ that they surveyed agreed with the statement “I do not see myself as old.”
Perhaps it’s not surprising that almost 80% of those aged 50-59 said that but more than 60% of over 90s also did not see themselves as old. The study does note that those over 80 who took part were more likely to be healthier and active than their age group’s general population.
The study also reveals that over 50s say their age does not often prevent them from doing the things they want to do; and 60% say growing older has been very or mainly positive.
The media sees over 50s as old
Given the stats – and those I have quoted so far are just the start – it’s mind boggling that so much of the media chooses to ignore the over 50s and focus instead on younger demographics who are both harder-to-reach and declining-in-numbers.
Last year, a study of Gransnet and Mumsnet users found that 78% of over 50s feel under-represented or misrepresented by advertising, especially for technology, fashion, and entertainment brands.
An article about the study in Marketing Week also revealed that 93% of respondents wish brands would start asking over 50s what they want and 92% want advertisers to acknowledge their spending power.
Young at heart
Noting that over 50s account for more than a third of the UK population and with a high proportion of the country’s disposable income, Kantar Media looked at how this demographic behaves in the increasingly digital world.
You might think that older people are stuck in a world of traditional media, preferring a newspaper to a news app.
But while they may not be digital natives, over 50s are fast adopters of digital. The study found that 64% access the internet more than once daily; 63% own a smartphone; and 53% own a tablet (no, not the blue ones!)
Kantar Media’s data also reveals a subset of the over 50s who consider themselves ‘young at heart’ and are more digitally-connected than the average person in this age group, spend more on tech, cultural experiences and overseas travel, spend more on clothes, and visit restaurants frequently.
How can brands better serve over 50s?
For brands, including media brands, to better serve this valuable and definitely-not-old demographic, they first need to throw out all the long-held beliefs and stereotypes.
They also cannot continue to think of ‘over 50s’ as a single block of people who have had their time in the limelight and need to make way for ‘da kids’.
Remember that over 50s – and even many far older – are living healthy, active, and often well-funded lives.
They are also likely to be working until much older than previous generations or may start a business; 43% of start-ups at the end of 2015 were run by over 50s, reported the FT.