The Purchasing Power of Older Adults

Jessica LangeJessica Lange, age 65 in a 2014 ad for Marc Jacobs Beauty.

In today’s youth obsessed culture, advertisers often overlook older adults as potential consumers. However, for most companies to remain successful and relevant, they need to recognize older adults as a growing demographic with substantial purchasing power.

A 2014 Bank of Montreal Economics Report explains that older adults “in a little over a decade, will become the largest spending group, accounting for one in five shopping dollars versus one in seven today.” To put it another way “the typical senior is nearly nine times richer than the typical millennial, a wealth gap between similar age groups that has more than doubled since 1984”.

If they are not paying attention to this demographic today’s advertisers may be missing out on a huge opportunity.

Beth Hershfeld explains this phenomenon in an article entitled The Biggest Market you are not focused on: Opportunities of an aging population. Hershfeld suggests that “baby boomers and seniors are craving products and services to meet their changing needs” and that they have the “desire and money to pay for them”.

As an example Hershfeld uses the health and beauty products markets. She contends “although the mature market accounts for almost half of the beauty spending in North America, almost 70% of women in this demographic feel ignored by the fashion and beauty markets”.

In order to successfully market to older adults, Hershfeld stresses that advertisers need to be aware that, like any other demographic, older adults are not a homogenous group. In an article entitled Five Tips to Reach the Dominant Demographic: Marketing strategies to maximize potential with the mature market Hershfeld suggests the following tips for targeting the mature consumer market:

  1. Understand your target
  2. Be respectful
  3. Optimize product design for their needs
  4. Focus on substance not flash
  5. Help them maintain their independence

If you pay close attention, you can see advertising trends slowly changing to capture the older adult market. Misty Harris, in her article Timeless beauty: Seniors tapped for luxury makeup, fashion ads points out several companies that are embracing older adults as their models. One example is Marc Jacobs Beauty who enlisted Jessica Lange, age 65, as their new model.

If you are interested in marketing to older adults, join us at the next Business of Aging: Information Exchange Network (BA:IEN) quarterly meeting where Cathryn Oliver from Sheridan’s Faculty of Business and BA:IEN co-lead will discusses key facts about older adults as consumers. See below for details.

BAIEN mtg Oct_14 FINAL







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