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Mature Marketing: More Gold Than Silver.

Despite what Justin Bieber might think, young people do not rule the world, and they certainly don’t rule the marketplace. With the number of American adults over the age of 65 who use the Internet and email having recently passed the 50% mark for the first time, reaching 53% in April 2012, marketers across industries are rethinking the ways in which they can reach — and target — these avid and oft-affluent consumers. And not just seniors, but the “mature market” as a whole, which is defined as marketing to those 55 and over. The Pew Internet & American Life Project calls this milestone especially significant considering in August 2011, the number of consumers over the age of 65 who were online was at 41%. That kind of growth is notable. But so are the other ways in which the tide is shifting in advertising and in-store marketing. Fashion and luxury labels such as Bulgari and Lanvin are but two brands pulling away from the fountain of youth by featuring older models in current campaigns. Some say the shift in the fashion industry is a response to airbrushing and cosmetic surgery, but others argue what marketers across sectors are discovering on their own: an aging consumer base needs and responds to campaigns that inspire them by speaking to them.

Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like for marketers “growing up” requires gregariousness and gusto. None of us are getting any younger, which makes mature marketing not just the wave of the future, but the future itself.

The mature market is as substantial as it is, well, substantial; in 2008, the entirety of the Baby Boomer generation reached 50. Now, four years later, it’s safe to say that demographic has safely entered what marketers call mature. While marketing to this demographic used to be dominated by healthcare and pharmaceutical brands (and in some ways, it still is), it’s also now brimming with a different kind of life. One reason: we now have a longer life expectancy. Another: older consumers simply don’t view themselves in the same light as generations past. Today’s mature market is full of “cougars” and “silver foxes,” consumers who equate maturing with sexiness. That explains why cosmetic brands such as Estée Lauder, Lancôme and L’Oréal have tapped older models to sell their goods. But marketers outside beauty and fashion shouldn’t ignore the most obvious reason to target mature consumers: they have money, and often, they have more discretionary income than their younger counterparts. Of course, they also have wisdom on their side, so the campaigns that succeed target them on an emotional level. That may pose a challenge for younger advertising and marketing pros, but be assured: silver is the new gold.

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.

About JJ Nelson

Freelance blogger for Vertical Marketing Network; food writer; bartender.

4 comments on “Mature Marketing: More Gold Than Silver.

  1. MAGGIE (in the UK)
    October 26, 2012

    Some nice points made … but there is another important aspect to this “silver is the new gold” (good tagline, BTW). This is that the over-55s are increasingly time rich which enables us to devote some of it to acquiring new skills as long as we understand the need for doing so. And, for me, that is where Apple et al are missing a trick. My reluctance to buy gadgets is not so much based on trepidation of learning how on earth to use them but more on a lack of understanding of what earthly use they will be. Not only that, many baby boomers recall, if dimly, the austerity of the post-war period and are more or less averse to following trends for trends’ sake and buying “stuff” because of peer pressure. (Note to self: Perhaps that’s why we have more disposable income?)


  2. Philip
    October 23, 2012

    Great points made by KJ.


  3. Philip
    October 23, 2012

    A perfect example of missing the boat are our friends at Apple. Many people in the mature group have concerns over the ease of using newer technology and security issues as well. With the seamless integration of Apple devices and their defenses against viruses, the 50+ market is a natural. But instead Apple focuses its marketing communications solely on the “hip” audience, and thus leaving many 50+ consumers out of their equation. Could they even show some mature consumers in some of their ads?


  4. KJ
    October 17, 2012

    As one who has arrived at “old age” I think there is one thing that younger marketers don’t quite grasp. When a person reaches retirement income becomes more fixed and while spending continues there is more of a sense of being riek-averse. When one is working there is always the opportunity take risks because one can recover with future income growth. When one retires and goes into the world of maximizing return on assets into a retirement package, the opportunity for recovery is vastly reduced. Spending has to be more of a sure thing that will protect the income package. The one great desire of old people is not ever having to be a burden on anyone else. The desire for independence is very powerful and that is tied to protecting assets.


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This entry was posted on October 16, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .

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