How brands are reaching this overlooked demographic

Kara Melchers

Managing Editor, BITE Creativebrief


The over 50s of today are redefining traditional stereotypes. Compared to previous generations, they have greater financial security and lead healthier lifestyles. Brad Pitt and Tilda Swinton, recent faces of Chanel and Nars respectively, don’t necessarily fit the stereotype of retirement-bound individuals looking to slow down. The marketing industry and media have been guilty of placing all over 50s into the same bracket, ignoring the differences in behaviour within this group.

The debate around the flawed representation of over 50s in marketing is not new. This is due to the growing influence and spending power of this demographic. Online community found that 97% of over 50s believe brands do not target them through advertising, even though they hold 80% of the UK’s wealth.

Over 50s are arguably a complex group to reach as they are less tribal than millennials (incite, 2014).

This demographic demand quality and search for rational reasons to buy a product, but contrary to popular belief they are just as willing to try out new brands as younger consumers.

The over 50s are a hot topic throughout wider culture - the UK Government recently found that many firms are guilty of ageism to women over 45 in the workplace. In marketing though we are beginning to see a shift in perceptions. Brands like M&S are placing over 50s at the heart of their fashion campaigns and Barclays are helping the less-tech savvy get online with Digital Eagles and creating banking internships strictly for the over 50s.

Now is the time for brands to finally take this powerful and dynamic audience seriously.

Read on for examples…

HIGH50; curating travel and lifestyle content for the 50+ generation

High50 is an online community with editorial and ecommerce at its heart.

The platform was born in response to the changing attitudes of the over 50s and that turning 50 today is no longer a time for slowing down, but for new beginnings.

The community targets those who have just reached this pivotal age and want to engage with content relevant to their peer group - not for millennials or pensioners.

Focusing on the attitude of the readers rather than age, High50 has UK and US sites and a global network of contributors. Its growing list of partnerships with brands include The White Company, Kuoni and Qantas. Tourism New Zealand, for instance produces articles about Auckland Art Gallery’s cultural richness as well as travellers’ food and drink guides.

Agency: Beta

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Playtex embraces the ageless generation

To better connect with increasingly youthful and savvy women in their 50s, Playtex researched both this age group and those in their 20s to compare and contrast their lives. After identifying the importance of social media, Playtex launched a search via their Facebook page to find ambassadors of this ‘Ageless Generation’. Three winners were selected based on their achievements; one had learnt to play the saxophone at the age of 50 . The winners were rewarded with a professional photo shoot, which was seeded through Playtex’s social media channels.

Agency: Text100, London

Louis Vuitton enlist David Bowie to lead the voyage

It could be said that the fashion industry prefers younger models to front their campaigns. Recently Louis Vuitton has moved against the grain by championing mature style icons such as Keith Richards and Catherine Deneuve. For their ‘L’Invitation au Voyage’ campaign, Vuitton joined the forces of  66 year old David Bowie and 25 year old supermodel Arizona Muse. The cross-generational union of Bowie and Muse enables Vuitton to reach and inspire fashion fans across a broad age range without excluding particular demographics.

Standard Life talks pensions at the pub

Standard Life wanted the over 50s to talk about upcoming pension reforms. They found this age group is consistently bombarded with scare tactics about finance and health. To do this they enlisted the help of Steph and Dom (of Gogglebox fame) who discussed these changes with people over a pint at a pub - a relaxed and light-hearted approach. They also held pub quizzes around the country to engage  consumers with the reforms in a fun way.

Agency: 3 Monkeys | Zeno, London