Mike Fromowitz
Jan 9, 2012


For decades, ad agencies have directed their clients to chase younger audiences. Ad agencies want to be cool, win awards and do ads for 16-year-olds rather than for consumers who are 50+ years-old....


For decades, ad agencies have directed their clients to chase younger audiences. Ad agencies want to be cool, win awards and do ads for 16-year-olds rather than for consumers who are 50+ years-old. And if they’re given the job to reach an older audience, they do it in the most stereotypical and clichéd ways that very often miss the mark and do not reflect reality.

Research says part of the problem may be the average age of marketers and advertising executives who tend to be younger than their counterparts in other businesses. Many of them are better suited to make advertising for their own age group, rather than focusing on the lucrative older audience.

One financial client I spoke with recently in Hong Kong agrees: “One of the things I find when working with agencies is that most of the people on the account are young, so we often get outcomes that are unsuitable for the older more mature audience.”

Given today’s economic conditions, companies aiming to improve their bottom lines might be better off refocusing on a consumer group that combines maturity with money and the ability to spend it. If they did, they’d be tapping into new revenue channels in a market worth US$11.3 trillion* across Asia Pacific (*AgeingAsia Investment Forum). Consumers aged 50+ (also called Baby Boomers), represent a lucrative market as they have huge spending power.  One estimate puts Boomer spending power at US $2 trillion by 2015.

The 50+ group is growing five times faster than overall population growth. One significant example is China, whose 50+ population alone is already larger than the entire population of USA and will grow by a whopping 36.8% over the coming decade.

Asian Boomers are blessed with increasing spending power and are less frugal than their high-saving parents. Above all, there are lots of them. In 2000 there were 1.2 billion Asians aged between 30 and 59. That will rise to 1.7 billion by 2020.

An online survey conducted by Reuters revealed: “More Asian baby boomers are making saving a priority, but a regional survey shows that the money is just as likely to be spent on a holiday or their children as it is to cushion against an uncertain economy”.

Despite their spending power, the Boomer consumer has been largely ignored by marketers and are therefore are fertile ground for more entrepreneurial businesses to make inroads.

No matter what the research and data analysis tells them about the huge potential of the Boomer market, most advertising agencies continue to view 18 to 39-year-olds as the prime demographic, paying an average of 25 to 50 percent more to target younger adults. They turn a blind eye to the fact that the 50+ consumer is more willing to try new products and services than their younger counterparts,  and that 55 percent are just as persuaded by effective advertising.

Above all, Asia's Boomer population is well-educated, sophisticated and enjoy a sense of confidence in their rising living standards. They are spending their money on their homes, consumer durables, cars, computers, luxury goods, pharmaceuticals, tourism and even financial products.

In China, car sales have risen by 82%. In Hong Kong, rich mainlanders are snapping up luxury flats. Gucci and LVMH continue to open new stores across the region. In Indonesia, there’s a boom in mortgages, credit cards and personal loans.

When it comes to the Internet, Boomers are not shy. They spend several hours online searching for products and services information that includes Healthcare and Wellness,  Retirement Living and Aged Care, Tourism and Hospitality, Finance and Investment, Real Estate, Design, Construction and Planning, and Technology.

They are making Facebook and Twitter their natural home, and targeting them online is a great way for brands to tap into their accumulated years of experience. The 50+ market is the fastest growing segment of web users and it’s important that websites be designed with them in mind.

Use of social media has grown significantly across all age groups, but in recent years, there has been extensive growth among older consumers.Internet usage by consumers aged 50 and older has nearly doubled form 22% to 42% in 2010, according to a Pew Research study conducted in 2010.

Other research indicates that the happiest, and perhaps the easiest time in a person's life, is when they reach 50 years of age. They have paid off their mortgage, the children have left home and they have more time for themselves. They have more time to tell their friends about products and services. They become key brand advocates, and with all their spare time and social media involvement, they become a primary vehicle for word of mouth.

Brimming with disposable income and luxuries of time, Boomers possess the means to fulfill their desires and pursue their dreams. Breaking free from the stereotype personas of boring consumers, they crave for brands that excite and add rejuvenating twists to their lifestyles.

The corporate and entrepreneurial success of many Asian baby boomers makes them a prime target for brands that are designed to cater to their wants, needs, preferences, and tendencies. The baby boomer market, tapped properly, can be a lucrative source of income provided you understand what it is that makes baby boomers tick.

Mike Fromowitz



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