Perspectives: Sam’s Perspective – Advertising

I don’t enjoy making mistakes, which I do from time to time.  We all do.  So I charge ahead and try not to make the same mistake again.    But when major organizations make the same mistakes over and over, that effect a great many people, I want to know why.   Especially when many millions of dollars are involved.

Let me give you a surprising example.  If you’ve ever watched the local television news, how many car advertisements did you see?  When you watch a national television network, same question.   Think back, who did the marketing folks target with those commercials?  What about clothing commercials or advertising for travel or carpet cleaning or just about anything else business  wants to sell? The answer is easy,…  according to Nielsen, who has been tracking Americans’ habits for decades, the  target audience is a special age group, and that group is 18 to 24 years of age.

My question is why?  It’s a mistake.  Recently I came across an article in the magazine AARP,the American Association of Retired Persons and full disclosure here,  I am a member. According to AARP the magazine, people over the age of 50 will soon control more than 70% of the disposable income in this country.  We buy two-thirds of all the new cars, half of all the computers and a third of all movie tickets. We spend $7-billion a year shopping online. More than 80% of all the premium-travel dollars flow from our credit cards. And when you add it all together, people over 50-years of age come in as the third largest economy in the world, trailing only the gross national product of the United States and China.

Still, according to AARP older Americans are virtually ignored by marketers mired in last century’s obsession with youth. In fact, according to Nielsen, only 5% of advertising is directed at older consumers!  Veteran ad man Bob Hoffman said recently, “Almost everyone you see in a car commercial is between the ages of 18 and 24.  And yet, people age 75 to dead, buy five times as many new cars as people 18 to 24.”  Nielsen calls people 50 and up “the most valuable generation in the history of marketing.”

Why are businesses sticking with their 18 – to – 49 obsession?  Old habits die hard.  Some say marketers are just planning ahead, for the day when the younger ones will be over 50,…and they will already be familiar  with the products.  That argument is so full of holes, it makes someone who smokes three packs of cigarettes a day, look healthy.

Well, there is hope for advertisers.  Some smart executives have figured out what Nielsen has been saying all along.  And keep this in mind, the population of 50-plus consumers is projected to grow by 34% between now and 2030.  So, before you laugh at someone over 65 driving a new car, just remember what AARP the magazine says, there is power there friend, power you may not have. They are the ones buying the products. They are also the ones making donations. They have life experience and better car insurance. Also, they haven’t stopped spending, traveling, adapting and living life to the fullest. So,… who is your target audience now?


That’s my perspective.