NEWS29 July 2004

Clientside urged to target older population

Changing demographics could spur marketing rethink.

UK population projections suggesting that the number of people aged over 80 will double to almost five million by 2031 has led to renewed calls for marketers to do more to target this group.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics point to huge growth at the older end of the population, while the number of children under 16 is set to fall by 7.4 per cent to 11 million by 2014.

Researchers who work primarily with the over-50s bemoan the fact that there is little or no long-term planning to address the country’s changing demographics. Leslie Sopp, head of research at Age Concern Research Services (ACRS), said most marketers still see people aged over-55 as “a homogenous mass”.

He said older age groups are rarely included in research projects as consumers in their own right. “We need to start treating them as equals,” said Sopp. “We have got to influence their thinking so they can influence the next generations’ thinking.”

A report by the think-tank Demos argued that the Baby Boomer generation (today’s over-50s; 2031’s over 80s) behaves in very different ways to previous senior generations.

ACRS general manager, David Chalk said this is because they are experienced consumers with clear expectations and demands. They are also asset-rich, due to high levels of home ownership and inheritance.