Hosted by Three Sisters Group Founder & CEO Dr Catherine Rickwood, P4 Group’s Account Director Gabrielle Quinn attended a PRIA webinar that highlighted the importance of connecting with older Australians through marketing and communications.
The team at P4 Group work alongside clients catering to this demographic daily, and it has been particularly important during COVID-19 to ensure the preparedness of effective communications that work.
Dr Catherine Rickwood is one of Australia’s leading experts and thought leaders in the silver space. With a PhD in consumer behaviour and a TEDxTalk under her belt, she understands the commercial implications of longer lives and added experience, and is committed to stamping out age stereotypes through writing, speaking and consulting on this often ignored market segment.
Check out our key takeaways below on how brands and organisations should and shouldn’t be communicating with our silver Australians.
There is a broad generalisation when it comes to marketing the ‘older’ demographic. Firstly, how old is old? Is it someone who is 50, 60, 70 or 80? How old is the oldest person you know? When do people start seeing themselves as old? Someone might see their 60-something year-old parents as old, while those parents might consider themselves as ‘spring chickens’, especially as their own parents are entering their 80s and 90s. People know fit and healthy people in their 80s and frailing people in their 70s, making it all down rather relative.
The reality is that age is just a number. You are defined by the year you were born, but at the end of the day, your cognitive age could be significantly younger or older depending on your health.
In marketing and communications, it’s important not to pool this demographic into the same category. Be inclusive and mindful of who you are targeting, because more often than not, they don’t like to be referred to as an older person in the first place.
Anyone with an internet connection has probably seen the phrase “ok, boomer” used online in a derogatory way, or shared a meme vilifying Baby Boomers for the economic problems facing Australia. It’s common place to see this demographic blamed for being Australia’s social problem or overworked to the point they don’t value anyone else’s work ethic.
People in the Baby Boomer generation were born between 1944 and 1964, meaning they are between 56 and 76 years of age today. When we reference the Baby Boomer generation, we are talking about a 20-year age gap. I know from personal experience, my parents’ lifestyles are very different to my grandparents – yet they would all be considered Baby Boomers. The younger end of the age group are more fit than ever and take their physical and mental health very seriously, which is a contrast to the way my grandparents live, who don’t consider exercise a necessity.
In recent research, Dr Rickwood revealed that a staggering 94 per cent of people aged 50 and over don’t resonate with marketing and communications campaigns. Phrases such as ‘grey tsunami’ and ‘the Boomers’ don’t achieve cut through. In fact, it is likely that person will quickly disengage from the conversation or campaign upon seeing or hearing those phrases.
So, how do we move forward in our thinking? It’s time to say goodbye to generational clichés, and stop assuming everyone born between a certain time behaves the same way. It’s time to start incorporating mindful messaging that is inclusive and all encompassing.
Instead of referencing ‘Baby Boomers’ or ‘Gen Ys’ in our conversations, let’s use specific age groups. If it is the over 50s market you are trying to attract, how do they live? Go one step further to understand their lifestyle. Are they senior travelers (relaxed intellectuals), socio-demographics (information seekers), gerontographic (frail) or psychographic (self-reliant active retirees)? Appreciate that not all over 50s are the same – some love to use Facebook to stay connected, while others consume news only by buying the newspaper from their local convenience store.
Once we understand the framework for crafting communications, then we will truly penetrate the market with campaign success. Consider what you know, what you think you know and what you don’t know, before working with any client to shape up a campaign.
In a world where we are consumed by brands trying to showcase their products and offerings to the community, we need to demonstrate trust and align with our audience now more than ever before.
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