Ageist Practices in Marketing and Advertising

Ageist Practices in Marketing and Advertising Ageist Practices in Marketing and Advertising

January 4, 20182 min read

Did you know that people 50 years of age and older in the United States account for 50% of all consumer spending but only 10% of marketing funds are targeted towards people in this demographic?1

Marketing and advertising are two sectors that increasingly employ younger generations – in 2017, just 6% of people working in the advertising industry in the United States were over the age of 50 years. Due to this demographic trend, younger people in these sectors may lack an understanding of older generations, resulting in misconceptions or biases.

Older consumers, especially those over the age of 50 years, may be mistakenly characterized as being tight-fisted with their money, set in their ways, uninterested in new products and brands, and lacking an understanding of technology – in particular social media, which is quickly becoming a central focus of many advertising campaigns.

A 2017 study by marketing consulting firm Age of Majority found that “incorrect marketer assumptions about consumers have contributed to a high level of dissatisfaction among consumers (especially older consumers) regarding how they are marketed to.”

One company that has found success in marketing to older consumers is the Gap Inc. owned Athleta, a fitness apparel company that tapped into the market of older women looking to either get fit or stay fit as they age. Athleta’s customer demographic ranges from about 35 to 55 years of age, and this is reflected in their marketing, which frequently features models over the age of 50.

While some companies and marketing/advertising firms are taking steps to engage with older people, there is a growing demand for a deeper understanding of the needs and wants of older people, as well as how to market effectively to them; especially given that the global population of people 60 years of age and older reached 962 million people in 2017.

The International Federation on Ageing's Expert Centre has several experts who can speak on marketing, advertising, and ageing - please click on one of the icons above to arrange an interview.

1 Statistics courtesy of US Census Bureau and AARP


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