Publications and industry leaders have all been warning us for years that Baby Boomers feel excluded by brands and misrepresented and patronised in advertising. Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that approximately a third of the total population in the UK are over 50, so are brands missing out on market share?

IPC Media, the publication house that owns Woman & Home, Country Life and Homes & Gardens, believes that marketers are wrong to prioritise 25- to 35-year-old consumers because they do not have the spending power of the older generation.

Wigginton adds: “There are a lot of myths about this audience – that they are stuck in their ways and they are brand-loyal, when actually they are open to opportunities because they have the disposable income and are at a point in their life when a lot of things change for them.”


Representation of age

Research Now revealed that in a study of 1,200 baby boomers, 59% feel younger than they are, with 9% even feeling 20 years younger! “The older you are the younger you feel” definitely resognates with this study.

However, this is not translating into advertising for this generation as 17% of baby boomers feel stereotyped by the representation of 50- to 70-year-olds in advertising and who can blame them? 35 year old women advertising anti-ageing cream or retired people speaking lovingly about their dentures.

Although we are seeing more and more representation within this segment where you can see older models like Yasmina Rossi, brands are still not doing enough to relate to the fun loving part of our elders’ personalities.

Whilst researching this piece, I came across an interesting article about Baby Boomers smashing their gender stereotypes – definitely worth a read if you’re looking to target them on your next campaign.

Social media

There seems to be a very prejudicial view that older people do not enjoy technology. How wrong could we be when only 2% say that they hate it and 78% actively enjoy using it.

The dreaded day when your mum and nan joined Facebook was terrifying when you realised you had to delete a few years of parent-inappropriate antics from your timeline however it is now the norm to find our elders on Facebook. Whilst Facebook is desperately trying to hang onto the younger generation who are moving away, it has become the social site of choice for the over-50s with many actively engaging in groups, fan pages and making friends. A study by iProspect finds that more than half of people in the UK aged over 70 are on Facebook.

Segmenting the over-50s

IPC’s Wigginton says: “My advice to brands would be to talk to this age group, spend some time with them. Brands need to acknowledge what the data and insight is telling them. This is not going to go away, the 50-plus generation are a force to be reckoned with.” Brands need to find out how to segment baby boomers by something over than age and prejudice age related problems.

iProspect research shows that the over-50s can be divided into three groups relating to their shopping behaviour and use of technology.

Adventurous adopters: The group concists of 50- to 59-year-olds. Smartphone uptake is also strong, but they prefer email instead when it comes to promotional offers. This group are the most active shoppers of the three categories and demonstrates a trend of ‘reverse-showrooming’ – researching online and buying in-store.

Confident adopters: The 60- to 69-year-old group is active on all channels except mobile. They are the highest users of YouTube and BBC iPlayer out of the three categories. Of all the age groups from 30 upwards, this category is most likely to research and buy online.

Comfort adopters: This group includes men and women aged 70 and over. They are less likely to own a laptop as they mix desktop surfing with a tablet. In terms of shopping behaviour the group is more likely to see the value of physically visiting a store to see goods.

Killer Stats

By the year 2020, more than 50% of the UK’s population will be over the age of 50

People over 50 control 89% of all disposable wealth in the UK

Women over 50 account for 68% of cosmetics purchases per year

Someone turns 50 every 40 seconds in the UK

Source: High50