There are 23.6 million people aged 50 years and over in the UK, representing a third of the population. Many more products and services are aimed at this group yet marketing to this audience tends to generalise. Clichéd creative with stock images and phrases is common, with an Age UK survey revealing that two-thirds of this group believe advertising portrays them negatively.
Our experience in targeting different demographics, particularly with the recent launch of Ourtime, a dating service dedicated to over 50s, has identified four considerations that are relevant for brands looking to interest and engage this audience:
1. Don’t take it too seriously
Those aged 50 and over may be wiser and have more experience to draw on but marketing campaigns targeting this group often lose vibrancy and sense of fun. Many people within this age group have more disposable income, more freedom in their personal lives and are confident about what they want from a lifestyle perspective. For example, from a dating perspective, recent research that we carried out found that over 50s are 11% more likely to kiss within the first week, six% more likely to sleep together within a month, and more than twice as likely to become exclusive within six months. We worked hard to reflect this with a sense of playfulness and fun in our recent advertising creative.
2. Visual imagery
Many services aimed at older demographics use a surprisingly large number of stock images. The range of imagery available online and via image and video banks tend to be biased towards younger people or focused more on the challenges that come with ageing. Wendy Darling, strategy director of AXA PPP healthcare has highlighted how the marketing of telecare services typically includes images of smiling grey-haired ladies and gentlemen wearing personal alarm pendants rather than on their lifestyles or the product in context. It simply does not reflect the reality for this age group who are still young over 50 and brands which move quickly to rectify this will attract and retain this audience.
3. Accessible and inclusive
It is outdated to think of older generations as being less digitally savvy. Like other audiences, digital services are often the most convenient way for this age group to watch new TV, find tickets to the latest shows and exhibitions, or to date. Technology is also proving the most effective means of guiding users through sign-up processes and answering frequently asked questions. Intelligent chatbots, which uses the latest artificial intelligence and natural language understanding, help users register and create successful profiles. These bots make the experience much more accessible and can assist users with their search.
4. Moving to real-life quickly
Whilst technology tailored for those aged 50 and over is critical in making services easy-to-use, accessible and delivering a positive user experience, marketing to this age group also needs to move quickly to real world experiences. Our research found that the over 50s seek more physical events, more reasons to meet and more unique, shared experiences located nearby. We’ve invested in offering a wider range of tailored dating events for this audience which reflect high indexing interests such as art, health and wellbeing and fashion.
Over 50s are experienced consumers, having been marketed to for many years, and it is surprising that new services are often opportunistic, with a less tailored, less digitally savvy approach compared to other audiences. It is no longer purely about demographics and more about understanding individual interests and lifestyles of consumers so brands can offer more relevant, aspirational campaigns for this growing, affluent and diverse group.
By Abbie Oguntade, vice president of Northern Europe at Match Group
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