Marketing people need to wake up and smell the formaldehyde

Demographically speaking, it seems that I’ve been pushed into a new tick box. How do I know? Because of the terrifying catalogues that have started landing on my doormat. Gargantuan pants that could sail an Americas Cup yacht, gardening implements that I frankly don’t understand, and nice comfy granny shoes.

I share my ‘box’ now with women like Nigella Lawson, Madonna and Mary Portas. Do you seriously believe that any of those women (or me for those of you that know me) are ready to buy a McCarthy & Stone retirement home? Can you imagine Madonna snuggling down ‘of an evening’ with a nice mug or Horlicks with her tootsies encased in a Big Slipper? Or maybe a Saga holiday? Not on your f**king life! She’s still rocking it in her pointy Jean Paul Gaultier bras and behaving disgracefully with toy boys young enough to be her grandson (biologically speaking).

We’re talking about the Over 50s market. And I can tell you, marketing people are getting this horribly wrong.

Let’s start with a few cheeky stats…

  • There are around 18.3 million over 50s in the UK.
  • We make up roughly one in three of the population.
  • 80% of the UK’s wealth is held by people over 50.
  • 65% of all new cars are bought by over 50s.
  • Half of all cosmetics sold in the are bought by over 50s.
  • 45-50 year olds have the highest household ownership of digital equipment.
  • Over 50s contribute £300 billion to the UK economy and our spending power is high than any other age group.
  • On Twitter the 55-64 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic with 79% growth rate since 2012.
  • The fastest growing demographic on Facebook’s and Google+’s networks are the 45 to 54 year age bracket at 46% and 56% respectively.
  • Since the economic crash, women over 50 are finding new careers and starting their own businesses.

So what's with the leaf blowers and enormous pants?

So with all this power, wealth and digital know-how, why are people in this age group suddenly targeted with marketing bumph for retirement homes, enormous pants, thermal vests, leaf blowers (why?) and Saga holidays as soon as they hit the magical 50?

According to Marks & Spencer, my role model should be Twiggy who is spotted in ads grinning in M&S ‘smart but casual’ elastane-rich slacks, ballet pumps and a tailored blazer. I wouldn’t be seen dead in anything from that range. If this is who Marks & Spencer thinks women of 50 are, it’s little wonder their fashion revenues are going down the pan.

Stop marketing to me like I'm a little old lady

I meet a lot of businesses in my job. A key question I always ask business owners is ‘who’s your target market?’ And when they say ‘over 50s’, my heart sinks, because their creative approach, the tone of voice, the language is not aimed at me, or any women I know who are also in my ‘box’.

As far as I can see, over 50s marketing is mostly aimed at people in their 70s. So if you want to capture some of my cash, and the people in my demographic box, you need to wake up and smell the formaldehyde.

This is a powerful demographic group with money to spend and serious clout. Stop treating us like little old ladies and you know where you can shove your thermal vest catalogue.