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Marketing to the 50+ consumer with authentic language

How can we appeal to the 50+ consumer with marketing messages that relate to their experiences?

Photo of Qyana Jené
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Before embarking on my graduate school journey, I spent five years at one of the leading media agencies in the world, where I strategized on creative ways to market to the target audience of our brands. Using various research tools, I delved into the demographic and pyschographic details of who our target was and how they preferred to be communicated to. Whether targeting Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, or Baby Boomers, the common thread was that consumers like to feel as though advertisers are speaking to them in a genuine way that is relevant to their needs and desires.


As I've been researching the needs and desires of those 50+, I came across an article, "How Brands are Using Digital Marketing to Reach the Older Generations" (http://tinyurl.com/zcfcpbu) , published by eConsultancy this month. The author opens the article with a research statistic-- "New research has revealed that 27% of consumers over the age of 55 feel brands are too focused on targeting younger people." Taking a step back as a consumer, when I think about the advertising messages and images that are prevalent, many do showcase Millennials. Those that I have noticed off the top of my head that do target Baby Boomers typically address health and dietary concerns (i.e. Depends, LifeCall), sweepstakes (Clearinghouse), and elderly abuse. I'm not saying that all ads featuring or geared to those 50+ fit into one of these buckets, but I can see how some of them may feel as though they're being left out of marketing conversations or that advertisers are talking to the tail end of the 50+ group with their messaging.


This article was interesting to me because as we think of ways to make banking more efficient for those 50+, looking at how  other industries have succeeded can be helpful. One example that stood out to me was Flora ProActiv, a health and nutrition company. Understanding that many of those who use their products are over 50, they designed their website to include a lot of information that is easy to navigate in order to educate these consumers on the benefits. They also showcase success stories of those who use their products to add a relatability factor. For this brand, education via clear information was important to build their connection to this demo.


The other brand that stood out to me was Saga Holidays, a travel agency for 50+ consumers based in the UK. To appeal to this demo, they have shunned the overarching belief that all members of this age bracket "are less tech savvy than the young" and use email communication (along with their website) to appeal to these consumers. They capitalized on the insight of 50+ utilizing emails often to place themselves as a priority brand for their target.


Overall, as we think of ways to appeal to this demographic, I think it will be key to keep in mind the nuances of the 50+ generation and not view them all as the stereotypical grandpa and grandma from the "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercials. Many are tech savvy and appreciate products, services, and communication that speak to their vibrant lives. 



What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Key takeaway for me is don't group all 50+ into one bucket. Many see stereotypical communication as patronizing. Many of them use social media, visit company websites, and engage in other activities online. Let's not ignore that "the average [50+] person feels about 13.5 years younger than their chronological age" (http://tinyurl.com/gvkbcbm) when trying to appeal to this audience.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am an NYU Music Business graduate student. I previously worked at a media agency as a media specialist helping brands execute campaigns to their target consumer.

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • I'm not currently involved in a credit union, but am curious to learn more!

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Photo of Lillian J Warner

Nice post--I definitely agree--50+ is not a monolithic group--it's really really diverse, and will only keep getting more diverse as more people move into that "category."  I definitely agree that any new product for 50+ people shouldn't be condescending, especially in regards to technology, because already many 50+ people are totally comfortable navigating mobile and web services. That comfort will only increase in the future. Your post reminds me of Spencer Cappiello 's post Teller > ATMs | Flashforwarding an Old NY Times Article -- I think that ten years from now it will be really hard to imagine a time when banks had to convince customers to access financial services online. 

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