According to ComScore, those aged over 55 are now the dominant online group in the UK. To put that into perspective, that’s 1m more than the second biggest demographic of internet surfers, the 25-34 year olds. That was a pretty surprising stat to me!
Nowadays as online marketers, we need to consider the older demographic as a growing online audience as well as those younger digital natives whom we probably already communicate with regularly via various social, internet and mobile channels.
These ‘silver surfers’ now account for more than 20% of all people who go online, and as a result, ignoring them in any online marketing plan could cost a business greatly.
As well as being increasingly tech savvy, the over 50’s are the most likely demographic to be financially stable. As a result they probably have a greater disposable income than any of your other prospects, they’re also better at decision making!
So, how should you adapt your marketing efforts to cater for aging surfers?
In short, you shouldn’t. When it comes to marketing to these demographic, businesses often rely far too much on old clichés.
Older people don’t really act any differently from anyone else; they’re not necessarily set in their ways and contrary to popular belief, they are just as likely as their younger counterparts to switch providers if they don’t feel that their requirements are being met.
Mark Beasley, managing director of RHC Advantage, the UK’s only independent marketing agency to specialise in mature audiences agrees that marketing to the over 50’s should not involve stereotypes.
He believes that as marketers we should be more inclusive and less ageist. Mark says that ‘inclusivity means not excluding older people, rather than actively targeting them, for instance, some brands seem to go out of their way to appeal to younger people, even though older people are also potential customers.’
Mark says that ‘many guidelines on marketing for older people assume that physical or mental decline is inevitable’. In fact, he says that ‘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’, adding that ‘many older people are mentally and physically active into their 90s and beyond’.
According to Mark, marketers should ‘treat ‘generational marketing’ definitions with caution’. Focus on the most useful consumer insight, which usually comes from behavioral-targeted campaigns. In short, treat customers as individuals, not segments.
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