Using the media to break ageing stereotypes

Although 46% of the U.S. adult population is over 50, ageing stereotypes abound and only 15% of media images of adults included these older consumers.

ageing consumer tech
technology for seniors

This finding from research conducted in 2018 by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). Based on analysis of a random sample of more than 1,000 images drawn from news sites, blogs and social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

As a former advertising career executive, I have always had an unhealthy respect for the power of imagery and its ability to persuade and change behaviours.

So it was with great delight that I read of the partnership between AARP and Getty Images, one of the largest repositories of stock photos in the world with some 300 million assets.

Quality vs. quantity

Getty has reported an uptick in searches for seniors among its images, a rise of 151% in the last year alone.

But it’s not just an issue of quantity.

AARP found that the images that do show older adults portray them as socially isolated or otherwise dependent, and not often in a work setting. This despite the fact that one in three people in the U.S. labour force is 50 and older.

Also missing from images featuring older consumers was reference to ‘Technology’. That perpetuates another stereotype of older adults as hopelessly behind the digital times. The reality? People 50 and older are expected to spend more than $84 billion on tech products by 2030, according to AARP. 

Brands need to face up to the fact that older consumers are a critical part of their business and represent them faithfully in their marketing efforts.

This does not have to mean physical portrayals of older people.

Perhaps the most successful ageing strategy is to be ageless. Click here to find out how.