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Over 50s… Ignore them at your peril

Barely a day goes by without an article in the press relating to the huge untapped spending power of the over 50s. Many of us are aware that they are the fastest growing age group (ONS, 2014) in the UK and that they contribute £300 billion to the UK economy (Saga & CEBR, 2015). Yet despite this, their social influence is all too often overlooked and media spend is wasted on approaches that don’t connect with them.

At Trinity Mirror Solutions, we have questioned why only approximately 10% of the hundreds of inventions briefs we received last year actively targeted the over 50s. This means nearly 9 out of 10 briefs were dismissing a third of the population.

While as a media owner we can’t influence the core target audiences identified by our clients, we can play an active part in ensuring this age group is considered an audience worth targeting. After all, at Trinity Mirror they make up 55% of our print and 26% of our digital audience. Attitudes and perceptions

The over 50s market have a very different attitude to spending and saving money to the generations both before and after them.

“We were financially cautious when we were younger, but now we need to take opportunities and live life to the full because you don’t know when these opportunities will come around again” – June, 61

Their prudence has served them well, as they are now able to buy what they want without regret. The new pension freedoms also mean that the new UK modern mass market ‘Modal’ over 50 audience, who hold every £1 in £3 of the UK pension pot, are now financially able to indulge in leisure pursuits, holidays and home improvements. They’re spending more than ever before and are easily taking over as Britain’s highest spenders.

Our research (Mouthpiece retirement survey 2016 & focus groups) into the over 50s has also identified retirement as a key differentiator in attitudes towards spending and a rejuvenation of spirit. While retired women are happy to indulge themselves, perhaps for the first time in their lives, men are focusing on the wellbeing of others and are often spending time with their families.

Trust in the media

However, making a case for targeting the older consumer is only half the problem - the issue of how and where to communicate with them still prevails.

For this age group, print media has retained its credibility and relevance. Two thirds agree that their newspaper is a trustworthy source of information. And half of those that visit regional websites are more likely to agree that they trust the advertising they see on them. They are in fact more likely to trust their paper than their financial advisor when it comes to personal finance and accurate reporting on important financial issues.

Making advertising attractive

Trinity Mirror’s own focus groups with these consumers threw up some great signposts for successful advertising. Men over 50 respond well to factual ads, while awards and hallmarks help to convince them to purchase from cheaper or newer brands. They also enjoy humour; children and pets that appeal to their new-found sensitivity are found to be very popular. Celebrities, and ads that could be perceived as boastful, deter men over 50 away.

By contrast, women over 50 respond well to celebrities such as Helen Mirren and Twiggy. Well-presented men also work well at appealing to women - step forward David Gandy and George Clooney. Ads that promote positivity, were evocative or took a nostalgic approach hit all the right buttons. Interestingly, humour was deemed less important for women, but still appreciated, while unnecessary contrived ads were unpopular.

The over 50s audience evidently make the ideal target audience for so many brands that currently seem to be missing the mark on their audience profiling. It is time that marketers shift their perception about the value of older generations, and instead tap into this financially lucrative group that makes up 80% of the UKs wealth (Saga & CEBR, 2015).

This piece originally appeared on MediaPost on 21 February, 2017

Abi Wotton, Insight Manager at Trinity Mirror Solutions

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