More evidence that older consumers will reshape the business landscape

Less than 15% of firms have developed a business strategy focused on the elderly according to BCG while the Economist Intelligence Unit found that only 31% of firms take into account increased longevity when making plans for sales and marketing. This despite the fact that the over-60s currently spend some $4 trillion a year and that number will only grow.

This and other solid evidence of the power of the ageing consumer in this article from the Economist.

In fact, there’s such an alignment of thinking between this blog and the article, it makes me wonder if the Economist has been visiting.

The article also cites a recent British study that found 68% of British 65-74-year-olds “don’t relate” to advertising that they see on television.

The conclusions (though not explicit in the article) are the same as I’ve been preaching for years; that both psychological and more importantly, physiological issues distinguish older consumers from younger ones.

More than ever before, age is a poor proxy for behaviour and as the article points out, the surest way to alienate older consumers is to treat them as old. They cite the example of P&G’s failed attempt which we wrote about P&G’s back in 2012. Their idea to cluster a few existing dental care products from their Oral-B and Crest range was futile from the get-go. I remember presenting to our client (one of P&G’s main competitors in the dentrifice market) and predicting failure for the initiative due to the gratuitous inclusion of ‘age’ as a reason to buy. Fail!

Our client could not believe the almighty P&G would make such an error. Perhaps if P&G had reads our book or asked our advice in the planning stage, we could have saved them tens of millions and a few executive reputations.

What the Economist article touches on throughout is the importance of physiological change as the key driver of product and service innovation for the ageing consumer.

Understanding these 25 effects of ageing and applying them discretely across all touch points of the customer journey achieves what we call, a Lifetime Customer Experience that works for adults of ALL ages.

Anything less is marketing ageism.