Is Your Message Being Heard? – Part One: The Issue

Written by Colin Milner, Chief Executive Officer of the International Council on Active Aging® (ICAA)

When was the last time that an advertisement so compelled you that you stopped flipping pages or channels? That it engaged your full attention and “totally rocked your world”? That you read or watched it to the very end, then picked up your phone or went online to learn more?

If you remember such a moment, the marketers did their job well. Ads that leave a lasting impression build brands and “buzz” as people talk about them—and, yes, even buy the products and services offered. So why is it that most marketers fail to achieve these results with the older consumer? A recent market research survey may help explain why.

Polling more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries, the 2014 Nielsen Global Survey About Aging found that 51% of global consumers “do not see advertising that reflects older consumers.” Simply put, consumers do not see themselves—or older people they know—in advertisements. A problem!

In August 2014, senior living marketing specialists GlynnDevins added to this conversation with results from its survey of 400 individuals over age 70. The Kansas-based agency reveals that 80% of respondents did not like the way people are portrayed in senior living or retirement community advertisements.2 Given that 77% of adults ages 60 and beyond “plan to stay in their current home for the rest of their lives,” according to another recent survey, ineffective advertising does not bode well for changing that number.

Lack of effective messaging is not just a North American issue. Located near Sydney, Australia, Blaze International conducted market research earlier this year that found similar dissatisfaction among the country’s Boomers:

  • 71% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with how they were represented in the media
  • 80% believed the media and the advertising industry assume all age 50-plus adults are the same
  • 69% felt patronized by media representations of them

People who feel misunderstood and misrepresented increasingly tune out messages.

As one in every two American adults will be over age 50 by 2017, it would be reasonable to expect marketers to be further along in effectively targeting the older consumer. In reality, all this market research points to the need for advertising that speaks to and with the market, rather than at it.

What about you, is your message being heard? If yes, tell us why you think so.

This is the first in a three-part series on how to get your message heard by the older consumers. Follow this blog to catch the next one!