Distorted ageing stereotypes. The danger of generalisations.

If you believe some pundits, the 65+ cohort are mostly Divorced, Rich, Aged 65+, Overseas Traveller, and Networker i.e. DRAGON’s.

Complete with the nauseating image of an “older couple on a beach”, this article written by a “junior planner” in an advertising agency seeks to redefine the older generation. 0_0_620_http_offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk_news_OKM_BabyBoomers-20140221114554386The subhead reads; Baby Boomers are misbehaving, and doing all the things brands didn’t expect them to. Really?

Not so long ago, older people were being stereotyped as spendthrift stay-at-homes who were risk averse, anti social folks who never switched brands. Now we are led to believe that people start behaving in totally uncharacteristic ways in older age.

Despite the ludicrous generalisations, the article does reveal some interesting statistics to support the authors hypothesis;

  • While overall rates of cosmetic surgery have risen 78% in the past 5 years, the 60+ set has seen a rise of 303% for women and 168% for men.
  • UK figures show that more than 13,700 over-60s were granted a divorce in 2009, up 4% in two years. This contrasts with all age groups, where rates fell 11%.
  • Nearly a fifth of all injury claims from sports such as diving, mountaineering and skiing in 2009 were made by Britons aged 70 or over. This compares to just 5% in 2006.
  • 21% of Brits in their 70s were planning three holidays in the next year – rising to 33% among single, part-time employed retirees, which is more than twice the 15% average across all age groups.

For each one of these stats, others could be generated that would paint a very different picture of the ageing consumer. That fact is, we don’t change our attitudes much as we age. Our behaviour is more affected by the physical changes we experience.