Youth and aging are an extreme contradiction.
As I continue to get older, it becomes more obvious that the youth side of the equation rules advertising and marketing. I am in an industry that wants to target the 20-to-34 year old age demographic. This coveted age group does not spend as much and has less disposable income than their older counterparts. The 20-to-34 year old age group consists of 63 million individuals whose annual spending is $1 trillion. Insurance carriers and financial services marketers believe that if you target this population when they are young, you will have them as loyal customers throughout their life cycle.
They are correct in this belief. But they are making a mistake by being right.
Are marketers having a Senior Moment when they forget to focus on the Alpha Boomers? This age group spends and buys more and is the fastest growing demographic segment of the population. Every seven seconds, someone turns age 55. This 55-to-64 year old age group makes up 78 million of the population and has an annual spend of $2 trillion. They spend 38% of all consumer package goods dollars. They rank Facebook and YouTube as their favorite sites, buy second homes, and believe that 60 is the ‘New Face of 40′.
As a member of this generation, I feel a connection with every other Alpha Boomer. We are a more youthful and relevant generation than any other maturing generation before us. But how do we compete when so many facets of life are dedicated to the word “young”? I remember being 10 years old and thinking that someone who was 50 years old sounded ancient to me. I think everyone would agree that George Clooney is anything but ancient.
I resent getting advertisements for denture creams, retirement homes, assisted living, and long-term care. Cosmetic advertising targets “aging women” who are in their 40s. It is a sad commentary to arrive at middle age and wonder why our story is no longer worth telling. Marketers don’t want our advertising dollars the same way they did when we were younger. I am open to advertisements that acknowledge what I am interested in, especially cosmetic advertising. These products are just as relevant to me as a woman in her 40s. I have the disposable income to purchase these products. I should be addressed with as much passion as the younger generations.
Two books were recently published that talk about aging gracefully: Fortytude by Sarah Brokaw, and Never Say Die by Susan Jacoby. While I will read these books, I vow to continue exploring all possibilities of maintaining my youthful outlook, and spending my dollars on teeth whiteners, Botox, facials, and anti-wrinkle creams. My birth years do not have anything to do with the products I am going to buy. Vitality + Spending Power ≠ One’s Age. While I cannot control my wrinkles, I can control how and when they develop. If Snoopy looks this good at age 60, I want to know that dog’s secret.