Ad mag says it's tricky to appeal to older consumers

Here’s a very good article from a renowned ad magazine that explains the tips and traps of advertising to older consumers.logo

Among the words of wisdom in this AdWeek article are the following nuggets when dealing with a 65+ audience:

  • Most of today’s 65-plusers either grew up with the Depression or more likely had the lessons of the Depression taught them hard by their parents. Today they are cautious. So you need to prove that there’s a need for something new, rather than just winning by saying it is new. They are looking for real need.
  • This has left them with a deep desire to get some enjoyment out of life before they’re done. Marketers who wouldn’t have thought to associate “adventure” with 65-plusers would do well to take note.
  • Whatever the length of the copy, it had better be grammatically correct. This generation knows good grammar and does not welcome an overly familiar (let alone a vulgar) tone. A certain respect is due. This market reacts badly to hype and hustle. Saying ‘last chance, hurry, hurry, rush today’ will almost always have the opposite effect. Personal testimonials from real customers are worth their weight in gold here.
  • The desire for connectedness remains strong, even if it takes different forms these days. Older people now create their own families, their own groups. This is part of the appeal of tour-group travel for seniors, which can include the notion that you’ll be joining a collectivity of people who might remain in touch even after the trip is over.
  • A deep-seated longing for connectedness carries over to the way they respond to the imagery in advertising. Ads that scored well in research showed ‘connectedness’ with people in the photos interacting with one another. People would much rather see a group of people than a single person or a couple. The photo of a single person can have an aura of isolation while the image of a couple can be problematic for an audience that includes so many people who used to be part of a couple but have been widowed.
  • The fact that older people have more free time doesn’t mean they’ve ceased to value their time. They’re not anxious to be wasting time. Some marketers treat them as if they need to be rescued from a life of boredom — scarcely the way this audience feels about itself. So “Including 10 pounds of copy in a five-pound ad will not attract readers,” in contrast to “a great image that reflects their values or desired experiences.”
  • Vibrancy is the key. Don’t worry about graying hair or a wrinkle line if it’s on a truly involved individual. But the ad shouldn’t go overboard, literally. Ads that show older folks waterskiing or otherwise behaving as “superjocks,” are viewed as silly. They want to see the person being vital and active — doing something that is relevant to their life, not necessarily to their age.
  • However averse they may be to some of the ways ads treat them, few grandparents are predisposed to react negatively when marketers depict and address them in this role. Grandparenting’ is an almost universally accepted — and even enthusiastically accepted — theme for everyone from age 50 plus and is therefore a warm platform that can embrace almost any product or category. Marketers who think solely of toys and clothing are ignoring the breadth of the opportunity they have to reach grandparents should consider the emergence of a “grandtravel” category in which grandparents take their grandchildren on trips, without the kids’ parent(s)

Well done AdWeek!