The over-50s market: underrepresented or misrepresented?

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Is age really a non-issue? Lucy Boland is Agency Director at Accord Marketing, which focuses on responsible, respectful and authentic brilliantly joined-up marketing. She discusses how brands can do more to speak to all ages in their marketing activities.

One of the most prominent debates in the marketing industry right now centres around whether brands are doing enough within their advertising to reflect all cross-sections of society. 

After all, representation is a natural driver of marketing success. It comes down to basic human psychology: the more accurately you represent your target audiences, the more likely they are to feel an affinity with your brand and engage with your products or services. 

Yet despite consumers rightly calling for stronger media representation, there is one audience group where advertising falls glaringly short: the over-50s. 

As brands race to identify the best way to woo Millennials, they seem to forget that there are a staggering 23 million people aged over 50 in the UK, and it’s this group that also possesses the highest disposable income of any demographic! 

Lack of representation has not gone unnoticed

So why do brands continue to disregard older audiences? Is it the fear of alienating younger consumers; is it due to the industry’s over-reliance on outdated stereotypes; or does it come down to brands simply wanting to be associated with the new rather than the ‘old’? 

Whatever the reason, one thing’s for certain: this lack of over-50s representation has not gone unnoticed. In a 2018 Gransnet survey of over 1,000 people, 78% of respondents agreed that the over-50s are misrepresented in advertising, with 62% claiming that advertising execs are too young to understand older demographics.

Perhaps more importantly - and shockingly - just under half said they would actively avoid brands who ignored their age group. 

The Non-Issue Issue 

Fortunately, as questions of diversity continue to take centre-stage, the tide does seem to be turning at last. 

In April this year, Vogue and L’Oreal published the ‘Non-issue Issue’ - a special edition of the magazine that exclusively celebrated women aged 50 and above. Featuring 81-year-old actress Jane Fonda on the cover, the issue aimed to ‘challenge stereotypes and positively shape our perception of age’ through unapologetic representation. 

For a magazine that has long been at the forefront of defining societal beauty standards, this was a very brave and welcomed move. 

However, while bold statements like this are a sign we are moving in the right direction, we still have a long way to go before ageism really is a ‘non-issue’. 

As mature marketing specialists and a founder member of the Mature Marketing Association, Accord Marketing is acutely aware that this diverse, experienced and sophisticated audience has many different values, interests and lifestyles - all of which directly influence their buying habits. 

Hence, the growth potential for brands that understand and engage with this complex and lucrative market is enormous. 

Accord Marketing will be the sponsors of September’s roundtable: ‘The over-50s market: underrepresented or misrepresented?’ In support of the upcoming discussion, Accord Marketing and Prolific North are running a survey to find what readers think about marketing to over-50s. One lucky respondent could win a £100 voucher, so complete the survey below today.

Survey - marketing to the over-50s market

If you'd like to enter the prize draw to be in with the chance of winning a £100 Amazon voucher, please provide your contact details below. The winner of the prize draw will be announced after the survey closes on September 4th.

Please note, by providing your contact details you are consenting to them being securely passed onto Accord Marketing alone and used for communication.