Ad land ageism: ‘Why do we target millennials with no money and ignore older consumers with wealth?’

The advertising industry has been accused of turning its back on older generations both by packing its workforce with young staff and failing to sell them products they want.

Dave McCaughan: why do we market to millennials who have no money and ignore those with wealth?

Far from being “doddery” consumers who scan ads for retirement villages, walking frames and glasses they are technologically savvy, adventurous – and wealthy, a session at Mumbrella 360 Asia heard.

Dave McCaughan, chief strategy officer at Bangkok-based Ai.Agency, said the industry is neglecting what is the fastest growing demographic in the region.

“Why as an industry don’t we focus on where growth is?” he told delegates. “Why are we focused on a group of people that don’t have money – millennials – and not on the generations that have money?”

Speaking during a debate on Ageing in Advertising: Overcoming the Myths, McCaughan said employing older people would help agencies and brands learn how to target the 60+ market in way a thirty-something staff could not hope to do.

“There are lots of myths about marketing to older consumers in that ‘they don’t this stuff’. But if you look at the statistics you’ll find people in their 60s and 70s are more likely to experiment with new stuff than their children in their 20s,” he told delegates.

“It is said they don’t try new brands, products and services yet work shows that it’s millennials who don’t like trying new brands and services. Especially in Asia,  they have spent 40 years having to experiment because their society were changing so fast. They had to learn and adapt and they are still good at it.

He continued: “That generation is all about trying new things. The challenge for us as an industry is how can we absorb some of these people into the workforce to help us understand how to market better to people just like them.”

Too often, people in the ad industry “picture their grandmother” when talking about older consumers, he said.

“But just because your grandmother doesn’t play a lot of mobile games doesn’t mean there’s not millions of grand mothers who do,” McCaughan said. “We think they are doddery, a bit blind and deaf…..but the reality is they are the most highly technical generation we have ever seen. No generation has seen as much technological transformation as that generation.”

Kim Walker: Selling to over 65-year-olds is regarded as “just not cool”

Kim Walker, chief executive of Silver Group, said the belief that seniors are all about hearing aids, spectacles and retirement “is absolute bullshit”.

“But if the opportunity is so big why aren’t there more agencies or groups that are focused on it?” he asked. “It’s the million dollar question. The reason is it’s just not cool. it’s not shiny.

“If you look at the average age of marketing and advertising people in the UK and Australia it’s 33, and it’s very hard to get 33-year-olds excited about selling to 65-year-olds.”

He added: “Old people don’t want to buy products designed for old people. They want to use products that make them feel engaged with life.

“How much do you think the industry is engaging with that consumer and how effectively? The answer is pretty poorly.”



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