Diversity Works Better than Nostalgia to Reach the 50 Plus Market

Are you marketing to the 50+ demographic? Beware the pitfalls of generalizing. It is unrealistic to group everyone over the age of 50 into one overreaching archetype or single-minded characteristic. This population may share some similar core traits, but they are not all created equal, nor are they a homogeneous group. Like any other adult audience, the 50+ set are at various stages of life, with different incomes, educations, values and lifestyles. It isn’t one size fits all.

What characteristics are common to the 50+ market? It may be safe to say that they are more self-centered than other generations, especially the 50-60 Boomer age group, believing in entitlement and personal gratification. (This thanks to Dr. Spock and the parents who read him.)

A big part of the shared culture of Baby Boomers (though certainly not all seniors), and an easy tool which marketers have used is rock ’n roll music. But that isn’t necessarily the best tool. While the popularity of various “Golden Oldies” and “Classic Rock” stations continues, overall there isn’t a big nostalgic movement among older people.

There are some marketers out there who know how to appeal to the diversity of the older population. Carnival Cruises runs an ad campaign showing the different things one can experience on a cruise, summing up the message with the line “At any one moment there are a million ways to have fun.” Carnival understands that the ‘aging’ population come in all shapes and sizes, and doesn’t try to force them into a single definition of what to do while on a cruise.

Along those lines, an ad for tourism in Panama states, “One beautiful country. Ten inviting destinations,” and lists the ten distinct areas within Panama, from beaches to rain forests to cities. The marketers understand that the 50+ consumer will look over the list to see what’s of interest to them, and will ignore the other, less relevant places.

Too often, the assumption is that people over 50 are looking back with nostalgia, when, in fact, many believe their peak years are still in front of them. They are looking forward to things they want to do and accomplish. So, developing a campaign based on nostalgic images or music might be ignored by a large portion of your audience simply because they aren’t looking backwards at all.

The trick isn’t to look backwards but to be contemporary and current.

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