Stairlift…or skydiving? Why you should avoid stereotyping the older generation

We hear a lot about the UK’s ageing population; indeed, more UK citizens are aged over 60 than under 18. Yet the way companies market their products and services to seniors has yet to catch up with this shift.

From holidays to hospitals to care homes, Solcroft’s creative team has spent a lot of time communicating with the over-50s market. Here’s our tips on how to get your message across without stereotyping or patronising this influential group.

1. Refine your target audience

Consumers graduating to the over-50s category can expect to enjoy their ‘old age’ for another 30 years, perhaps longer. That’s a lot of people, with very different experiences and expectations, to group together. Clearly, you’ll miss the mark in many cases if you treat them as a homogenous group. Consider more closely who it is you’re trying to reach, and target them accordingly.

2. Focus on the positives

Although the over-50s represent 75% of the UK’s wealth, two-thirds of them feel negatively portrayed in advertising. It’s easy – and lazy – to stereotype older people as somehow experiencing ‘less’ of life; less confident with technology, less adventurous with travel, or less able to achieve physical challenges.

Instead of focusing on the negatives that age may (or may not) bring, highlight the benefits gained at this stage in life and celebrate that experience. L’Oreal reportedly chose Helen Mirren to front their campaign because she’s “a bold, confident and sassy individual who reflects [our] values”. Show how you can make their fabulous life even better, not how you can make their miserable life bearable.

3. Don’t forget they’re online

The over-50s display comparable technology and internet usage to 30-49 year olds. In fact, 20% of the UK online population are over 55. However, after researching online, they often like to speak to someone on the phone before booking. Make sure that your campaign includes a phone number, to maximize conversions.

4. Provide quality content

The over-50s often have more personal time available than younger people, so tend to do more extensive research. By providing them with high-quality content, you’ll encourage them to visit and return to your website, plus you’ll position yourself as a valuable source of information.

5. Invest in photography

It can be tricky to find engaging images of older people doing what they do in everyday life. Spoiler alert: they don’t all drink tea and go to bingo. Granted, some do. But many are travelling the world, learning new skills, and discovering new hobbies. Take time to find out how today’s 60, 70, 80 year olds are spending their time, and picture them accordingly. Remember that fact in point one above – two-thirds of this group feel that they are negatively portrayed in advertising. That’s a good opportunity for you to stand out. Commissioning a photo shoot is more expensive than using stock photography but it could be the best investment you make in attracting that lucrative market.

6. Make a video

Interestingly, the older generation value YouTube content – some 33 per cent of UK consumers aged 60-69 (the same proportion as the 30-49 year olds) watch YouTube videos a few times a week. Producing high-quality video content will help you reach this audience.