Why do we need to reconsider the way in which we view and market to the older generation? The answer is simple, and that is that life has dramatically changed for them over the last 70 years.
One of the most major changes over the last 70 years is technology. That’s not only what is available to us, but also the speed of adoption.
With the smartphone, we have access to any person, organisation or information instantly.
A major advance in the 1950s was the television remote control. It plugged in and was called the “Lazy Bones”. In 1956, the first hard drive disk was used, and at the end of the 50s, the microchip was created, one of the most important inventions in human history. Almost everything we use today contains a microchip.
Flash forward to 2019, in the past year, 3D metal printing, artificial embryos, cloud-based AI services, genetic fortune-telling, and so many more developments have been created. The technologies available now not only affect people's personal lives, it has huge impacts on businesses too.
Large companies such as Microsoft, Google, IBM and Amazon, are all working (separately) on ways to increase access to artificial Neural Network Technology and Machine Learning. Not only do they want to make advancements in technology, they want it to be easy to access, easy to use, and be affordable too.
Saga, a company that predominantly focuses on the over 50 age group, was founded in the late fifties, and still thrives today, generating revenue in 2018 of £860 million. When it was founded, the over 50s expected to only live for another 15 - 20 years, so being 50 in the 1950s was similar to what we think of 75-80-year- olds now.
In 2017, Saga completely relaunched their brand, noticing that what they may have considered as an over 50 in the 1950s, doesn’t reflect the same in over 50s today.
The business shifted their whole brand messaging, to suit the way of a current generation.
"People in their 50s and 60s see themselves as much younger and they are physically much younger and more able and they want to be active and contributing to society. Saga has been serving that generation for 65 years but we need to adapt to a world of retirement and the wide-ranging commitments of the older generation." Matt Atkinson, Saga
Back in 1950, a typical 65 year old would have been married for 40 years to a husband or wife they met through friends or family. You certainly didn’t have a mobile phone & the internet and therefore unlimited access to information did not exist. 3/4 of all women aged 20 - 24 were married, a number that has dropped by half. Since 2017, the most common way to meet your future husband or wife is online.
People no longer feel the need to give in to societal pressure, and get married and have children by the time they are 30. Thanks to advances in technology, online dating apps such as Tinder, have become the norm. The ability to download an app on a phone or sign up to a dating site on a laptop, allows people to get to know each other virtually, with no commitment of meeting them, but the ability to find some companionship.
Grouping ‘over 50s’ or even ‘over 65s’ is no longer an effective marketing strategy and we should instead, focus on motivation and capacity. Over 65 is no longer seen as getting old, out of energy to have fun or unable, with more and more of the older generation having access to technology & better healthcare.
“Brands should celebrate older consumers because from a strict marketing perspective they are a highly valuable audience. They are loyal, cash-rich and quite frankly there is so much to celebrate from their lives and experiences,” Hugh Pile, CMO at L’Oréal
Age is not a driving factor in capacity, and is not a cause to ‘right off’ several generations of cognitive and smart potential customers, shoppers and service users.