Is it time to move away from age-based marketing?

Age is a poor proxy for behaviour. In fact the physical changes that age delivers have a far greater bearing on us as consumers, citizens, employees and patients. Behavioural traits remain pretty constant throughout our lives.

Some consultants disagree. They have a vested interest in promoting generational differences because it allows them sell services aiming to highlight such differences and to to find some relevance to business.

With the inexorable change in the demographic makeup of our world, we should focus more on behavioural profiles that transcend age groups and generations rather than the out-dated age or generational approach to marketing. A tech geek (early adopter) in their 20’s is likely to remain so throughout life, as is the adventurous spirit of a youthful backpacker.

This of course does not apply to the marketing of products and services specifically designed for a particular market segment. i.e. teen fashion, new mothers etc.

This article in the Australian Financial Review hits the nail on the head with the headline “How Boomers and Gen Y are more the same than different”.

It argues that as Boomers and their Generation Y offspring continue to move in tandem into their next life stages, it’s somehow fitting that, as Gen Y comes of age, their Boomer parents are intent on casting off the shackles of age altogether. The author states “age is no longer stratified. Instead, it’s flat, meaning the year we were born no longer denotes how we should behave”.

i.e. age is just a number.

This applies to the adoption of digital technology where boomers show as much enthusiasm to embrace technology as younger folks, but use it differently. For example:

  • Nine out of 10 Boomers said they had purchased something online and 25 per cent said they did so every week.
  • A third of Baby Boomers even consider themselves to be multi-screeners and 45 per cent have watched catch-up TV.
  • Boomers are also exhibiting a typically ageless approach to technology, experimenting with dating apps such as Stitch, an app which finds companions for people over 50 using the same mechanics as Tinder.

Similarities are clearly evident in the approach to travel, work and finances.

Apples’ famous quote “We welcome customers from 1 to 100” is the future of business. But to achieve this, companies must understand the physical changes that ageing brings and ensure their entire customer experience is designed to accommodate these changes in ways that are natural and beneficial to all ages.

We call this Age-Friendly.