Study: Australians Over 55 Dismiss Advertising Stereotypes

Study: Australians Over 55 Dismiss Advertising Stereotypes
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New RMIT University research, commissioned by SBS, has revealed spending habits and insights of Australia’s ageing demographic

New research into Australia’s growing ageing population has revealed that consumers aged 55 years and older don’t believe that brands cater for them in their advertising despite controlling more than half of Australia’s wealth.

The research also found that this demographic rejects advertising that insults their intelligence, and campaigns which perpetuate stereotypes of older people, including the use of terms such as ‘silver’, ‘mature’ and ‘senior’.

SBS director of media sales, Adam Sadler, said: “The number of Australians over the age of 55 is growing significantly each year, now representing more than 25 per cent of the population. Yet despite controlling the most significant portion of Australia’s wealth, they are rarely targeted by marketers.

“This new research tells us that this group are not only open to trialling new brands, but also have strong purchasing power across other demographics for a range of product categories, including recreation, food and drink.

“Marketers in Australia and globally simply can’t afford to ignore this sizable demographic, and can benefit from a clearer understanding of insights and spending behaviours.”

Professor at RMIT’s Consumer Wellbeing Research Group, Kate Westberg, added: “Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, which, combined with a declining birth rate, signals a growing segment for 55+ consumers.

“These consumers are not a homogenous group and are not always buying for themselves, with many purchases taking broader family needs into consideration.

“Understanding this group requires nuanced insight into their life stage and the influence of the different dimensions of ageing; biological, psychological and social.”

Based on in-depth interviews, a review of existing research and analysis of secondary data, the research highlights that:

·   Chronological age tells us very little – age is a fluid concept, with chronological age a poor predictor of attitudes, interests and behaviour.

·     Older consumers don’t feel valued – advertising targeted at this group tends to feature negative stereotypes and caricatures of ageing over positive ones.

·   This demographic is brand aware, but generally not brand loyal – quality or functionality are valued, but brands as status symbols may not be.

·   Progressive attitudes are not age-dependent – there is an increasing interest in ethics and corporate responsibility as people aged over 55 want a better future for their children, grandchildren, and themselves.

·   People aged 55-plus are staying in the workforce longer – almost two-thirds of Australians aged 55-64 are working, and 13 per cent of those aged 65 years and older.

·   Spending remains stable throughout retirement – almost 60 per cent of people spend about the same throughout their retirement.

The advertising industry has reacted positively to the study and Mark Lollback, CEO of Group M, says: “Age is just a number, and with such a large chunk of Australia’s wealth controlled by this demographic, it’s positive that stereotypes and ageism in marketing is getting the attention it deserves. It makes sense for advertisers to want to better connect with this audience by tapping into the full range of interests and attitudes, move beyond one-dimensional segmentation and develop sophisticated media strategies that ensure they get the right message to the right consumer at the right time.”

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Over 55s RMIT University SBS

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