Marketing to over 50s: where finance brands get it wrong

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Misconceptions and stereotypes
By Rachel Lobley, contributor. 14 November, 2019
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As finance marketers, it’s part of the job to make sure your brand appeals to different generations - and we spend a lot of time talking about it - another article about marketing to millennials, anyone?

However, there’s one demographic that often gets forgotten: the over 50s.

Let’s get this out in the open straight away – over 50 does not equal ‘old’. Jennifer Aniston is 50, Brad Pitt is 55, and need we remind you of Jennifer Lopez (also 50) who recently strutted down the Versace runway in the same dress that broke the Internet almost twenty years ago?

So why does this demographic only seem to appear in ads for life insurance or sensible shoes? Time to debunk some assumptions about marketing to over 50s and give you some examples of the finance brands doing it well.

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Time to spare and cash to spend

The populations of the UK, US and Australia are ageing. This older demographic is not only growing in size, but their net wealth and disposable income are increasing too, making them a valuable consumer set for marketers.

The truth about the over 50s – and how marketers should respond

They’re healthy and loving life. According to a new report by WPP AUNZ, ‘Secrets and Lies: Ageless and Booming’ 78% of over 50s in Australia feel much younger than their age, and 61% claim to be living the best years of their life.

A vibrant and active bunch, marketers should assume that this demographic leads a much more diverse lifestyle than an afternoon walk and the crossword. Take Sister Madonna Buder (otherwise known as the Iron Nun) as an example. She completed her first triathlon aged 52. At 82 she became the oldest woman to ever complete an Ironman.

They’re not all the same. Treating the over 50s as one group is an oversight. Imagine your wants, desires and behaviours being lumped in with those of your parents…

This demographic should be acknowledged for its diversity in preferences, lifestyles and interests. One pitfall for marketers is assuming that everyone over 50 is looking to ‘wind down’. In fact, according to research by MIT, a 50-year-old is over twice as likely to found a successful start-up than someone who is 30.

According to research by MIT, a 50-year-old is over twice as likely to found a successful start up than someone who is 30.

They like to mix things up. It’s a common assumption that after a certain age people become set in their ways. However, people over 50 are not afraid to make significant life changes.

In Australia, the divorce rate amongst women over 55 grew in double digits from 2015 to 2016, and women over 50 are leading the boom in solo travel in the UK. The same mentality exists when it comes to making purchases – according to WPP’s report, 89% of the over 50s in Australia are open to trying new brands.

Finance brands mastering marketing to over 50s

SunLife – Welcome to life after 50

SunLife insurance tackles misconceptions and stereotypes about ageing head-on with its tongue-in-cheek television campaign. Mixing humour, dynamism and relatable characters it brings a new lease of life to advertising for older generations.

Barclays Wealth

Barclays brings a clever edge to a more traditional ad format – black and white print. Whether it be the playful phrasing or the silver fox surfer who will have you looking twice, these ads embrace living life to the fullest.

APIA – Hipsters

A humorous glimpse at when generations collide – except this time it’s the millennials who are the butt of the joke. APIA insurance connects with an older audience by being on their side and recreating real-life dynamics.

If you’re struggling to create content that hits the mark with your target audience, we can help. Get in touch.

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A specialist in marketing strategy, Rachel has worked on consultancy, content and PR projects for a number of international finance and insurance brands out of London. Now in Australia, Rachel enjoys producing strategic content for the Aussie market and getting to know her new surroundings. When not at work, she's out enjoying restaurants and attempting to do some exercise.