Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Mar 30, 2012

Marketers ignore 'silver hairs' at their own peril: Ipsos study

HONG KONG - The silver-haired generation is more savvy in social media than marketers - who tend to ignore mature consumers - seem to think, according to an Ipsos study that shows rapid internet adoption among the elderly.

Credit: Tamjty (Flickr)
Credit: Tamjty (Flickr)

The surge in Hong Kong's internet penetration rate is allowing social media to spread deeper into society regardless of age. Among the 'silver hairs' aged 50 to 64, more are engaging with social media, contrary to expectations.

The three main reasons: family influences, upgrades from feature phones, and user-friendly mobile apps.

The research states a 58 per cent increase in the past year of 'silver hairs' being 'creators' - meaning they create content on their blogs or microblogs and upload self-produced video or audio clips to public sites, for example.

Ipsos also saw a 29 per cent rise in the older age segment who comment on content already on forums and discussion groups, as well as react to ratings of products and services with their own reviews.

"These are from lower bases than younger people—a remarkable increase which will trigger marketers to re-think how they communicate with this increasingly important age group," said Steve Garton, managing director, Ipsos MediaCT, Greater China.

Currently, Hong Kong citizens above the age of 50 form 35.9 per cent of the population. This group is larger than the popularly-referenced post-'80s generation (13.8 per cent are 20 to 29 years old), and more than double the size of the post-'90s group (10.3 per cent are between 10 to 19).

The older generation will also make up a larger part of the population in time to come, to 45 per cent by 2031, according to projections from the census and statistics department of the Hong Kong government.

Susanna Lam, director of Ipsos in Hong Kong, said mature consumers have been overshadowed by attention showered on the younger post-'80s and '90s groups.

However, marketers need to think about how to address this segment. "They are likely grandparents or empty-nesters with more time to engage in any pursuit they choose and more disposable money to spend," Lam said.

In terms of media habits, the 'silver hairs' are also skewed toward consuming newspapers and radio, which is information that media planners can jot down. When deciding what brands to buy, they rely on TV and both paid and free dailies.

"They have become the elephant in the room that we cannot ignore," Garton pointed out. "This means marketers should give more weight in their campaigns to target the 'silver hairs', and also reinforce twin-pronged brand activation in a different way for the usual youth audiences."

The sixth annual Ipsos study captures a cross section of Hong Kong society, revealing the media consumption attitudes, product ownership, and spending patterns of 6,055 respondents aged 12 to 64 in January to December 2011 using computer-assisted telephone interviews.


Campaign China

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