Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Aging Consumer

Marketers and advertisers use the term “65-plus” to describe the advertising target of the older population in the U.S.  Every other demo is in ten year increments 20-30, 30-40, etc. ending with 65-plus as a sort of a wheelchair-bound non-user group.   65 years old – Really?   The face of today’s consumer may look slightly different than we marketers imagine.
US Census age trends 2010 versus 2000
As the U.S. Census comparison illustration to the left suggests(Population by Age and Sex: 2000 and 2010), the bulge, driven by the Baby Boomers is moving to older age.  Examine the slope of the 2010 curve as it climbs in years, versus the 2000 curve.  It suggests that the width of the bulge may stay almost as wide as it moves up through older ages, exaggerating the comparison closer to the top of the tower. 

So, is this today’s consumer?
                         Or is this today’s consumer?

Changes marketers need to make now to cater to an aging consumer:
  • Find new benefits for existing products and brands –- how can products deliver on health, beauty, longevity, chronic condition management, and smart value.  Existing brands matter more than new brands.  
  • Develop product packaging that is easy to open and read, with claims that are clear and not confusing. 
  • Create communication demonstrating benefits in the context of feeling strong and vibrant, living in diverse and caring communities of all ages, connecting with generations, and giving back. 
  • Deliver products in more convenient formats.  Deliver it to consumers homes.  Focus on shelf and store placement is findable and reachable. 
Some more observations:
How about finance and the economy?  While the over 65 group has been hurt by the recession, the Boomer component is still in the prime of their wealth and discretionary spending years. But their needs are changing.  No longer content to watch their investments grow from a distance, they are actively managing their investments (those that have them).
US Census Data - Growth of 65+ Age Group
Soon, the Boomers will no longer be contributing to nest eggs, but cashing in on investments.  There will be a huge drain in stock portfolios.  Money will move to housing and care as Boomers take advantage of lower priced housing and make their retirement downsizing moves.  I don’t even hear economists talking about this, which is strange.

Let’s look at the political landscape. The over-65 segment of the population is growing and votes, much higher proportion, than younger groups.   65% of all voters are over 45 years old.  Close to 25% of all voters are over 65 years old, but they only account for 18% of possible voters.  

Socialized medicine? Obamacare"?  Call it what you like, healthcare and other elder-centric issues must radically move to a shared responsibility model based on the sheer need of a population explosion of non-working people who will need the support - and they will vote.
voting Population Trend By Age

The degree to which the economy, the political landscape and business will change in response to this demographic change will surprise even the trend watchers. 

How are you preparing to keep your brand relevant and growing?

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