They say these days
that the 40s are the new 30s and that for advertisers, chronological
age is becoming less and less of a measure by which to segment
This idea was
brought front of mind to me recently when talking to Richard Jacobs,
head of commercial strategy at Real & Smooth Radio Ltd. The
station has a specific target audience of 40-59s; a demographic that
historically would have been considered ‘old’. But no longer is
this the case. For the first time in history we appear to be at an
evolutionary stage whereby the generation gap between those in their
20s, 30s 40s & 50’s is closer than ever before – meaning that
different generations can & do enjoy similar interests and
As Jacobs pointed
out; “these are the children of the baby boomers, we’re running
the country, operating and managing businesses large and small, we
are doctors, teachers, software developers and media planners!
“We buy ipads,
brand new cars, clothes, crisps, smartphones, deodorant and expensive
holidays. We are a group of consumers that the marketing industry
hasn’t quite got its head around. You’ll seldom see us appearing
in ads, which is fair enough as no brand wants to be seen as old, but
the problem is that in many cases, we’re not even appearing on
media schedules anymore. How many times do we see brands actively
targeting consumers beyond 44 on a media schedule? We believe our
research goes some way to addressing that problem and some of the
insight is genuinely surprising and hopefully behavior changing.”
From its own
research, Smooth Radio suggests that because of increasing divorce
rates (13% of all over 40's are divorced and 25% of over 40's are
either divorced or still single), this age group has a ‘second
lease of life’ mentality. In addition, having children later means
more parents with young children in their 40’s. This creates a need
for marketers to start extending their targeting to reach older
people doing more and things in life you’d traditionally expect 20
& 30 somethings to do. As those in their 40s and beyond feel
younger than ever before, perceived age versus chronological age is
becoming ever more separate.
In fact these days
it is not uncommon for the over 40s to be considered the ‘Highlifers’
in advertising circles. This demographic is in better financial shape
with money it is willing to spend at the click of a mouse button.
This doesn’t mean that this audience is not exercising control in a
still cautious financial market,
The recession has
made this group careful but still prepared to spend on what they feel
is important or what they really value.
Real & Smooth
Radio’s consumer research department, MediaLab, has spent the past
two years examining the lucrative over 40s market and honing in on
where advertisers can find it ‘hanging out’.
crucially of all (certainly to advertisers), the over 50’s have
accumulated around 80% of the nation’s wealth and is the
demographic with the healthiest rate of expendable income overall.
This is due in the main to big increases in the value of their homes
and economic benefits now less readily available to younger
generations, such as generous salary pension schemes and affordable housing.
This group isn’t
shy when it comes to embracing new technology either. Some two in
five consider themselves to be early adopters. In focus groups,
technology usage is described as ‘intuitive’ and absolutely vital
to the way Highlifers live their lives today.
This is a
demographic keen to retain looks and good health too. Eighty-seven
percent of women say they actively seek beauty information with 91%
saying that they trust word of mouth when it comes to beauty products
and treatments – an interesting face perhaps for those brands
looking to target 40+ women via social media sites. Eighty-one
percent are interested in their health and seek information on
keeping healthy, but 40% claim they have little time in which to
actively research health products and
would like help with it.
So what does all of
this tell us about how advertisers should approach this increasingly
youthfully-minded audience? Smooth Radio’s own strapline; ‘Love
life, love music’, is designed to resonate with an audience
enjoying the best time of its life. Yet it wasn’t that long ago
that as far as advertisers were concerned, the 40 plus market was
considered ‘past it’. It wasn’t unusual to see ads for the 40s
market tailored to pension planning, and even funeral care!
Fortunately, today’s adverts for this demographic are becoming ever
more neutral, positive and engaging. Brands are realising that the
40-plus demographic is no armchair group. It is actively using social
networks to engage (social networks are considered crucial to
rekindling friendships or old romances for this group). MediaLab
found that 77% use popular social networking sites - Facebook,
Twitter and YouTube being the main ones visited.
And it not just the
virtual world they are embracing either. MediaLab research tells us
that, in the case of over 40s that have grown up children, they are
increasingly indulging in past passions and hobbies. They’re going
to concerts, festivals, gigs and comedy shows.
or ‘Modern-Midlifers’ as MediaLab call them are a fascinating and
economically rich group of consumers. They can really help to
optimise a brand’s success, so long as they are communicated to and
engaged with in the right way. And rule number one is to treat the
over 40s as anything but a grey market!
By Richard Ardley, insight director, Getmemedia.com