The number of older people who live alone at home continues to climb: 13 million in 2015. And for women over 75, the numbers are even more shocking. 45% live alone, according to a recent "Philadelphia Inquirer" article.
Older consumers are disproportionately skeptical of marketing, believing that marketers either don't understand them or ignore them altogether. A recent study indicated that fewer than one in four people age 50+ believe marketers do a good job of representing people like them in advertising. How can marketers who want to meaningfully impact America's most powerful spending block-who are responsible for more than half of all consumer spending-address Boomers' skepticism?
Tiny homes are emerging as a trend in the 50+ consumer marketplace. According to research by The Tiny Life, 38% of tiny-home owners are over the age of 50. The movement has shifted from pioneers living off the grid to a mainstream desire to downsize our lives. Keep in mind, the average home in the U.S. is around 2,600 square feet. Tiny homes vary from 100-400 square feet. The movement is being fed by FYI's "Tiny House Nation" and HGTV's "Tiny House Hunters," the growing number of web sites, and how-to books.
While unemployment seemed to drive millions of young adults back to their childhood homes, the fact of having gotten jobs did not result in their moving out. Recent research suggests that the adult Millennial child and his or her Boomer parents are now a permanent part of our landscape. Marketers need to face this new reality: their "coveted 18-34 year old" is probably eating food, sitting on furniture, and streaming content via wifi that has all been purchased by his or her midlife parent.
Contrary to the perception that aging brings a calcification of shopping habits, many over-50 consumers diversify their spending habits as they grow older. That diversification, plus the narrower tactics of contemporary marketing practices, makes them much tougher to reach through advertising. As older consumers and the Baby Boomer cluster move from the crowd-think of their youth to personal uniqueness, marketing messaging should also move to meet them on their new turf.
Millennials have regularly been the subject of misunderstanding, even teasing, due to their unconventional beliefs and practices. Still, since they represent the largest, most powerful generation to hit since the big bang of the Baby Boom, marketers, researchers and planners like me continue to watch this group of consumers with borderline obsession. In my own observations, I've discovered the Millennial generation is not only different than prior generations, it's contagious. Unwittingly, the rest of us are becoming more like the segment we're all trying so hard to figure out. I'm a balding, shining example.
The days are over when 10-year-old Billy down the street opened a few cans of dog food for Fido while the neighbors were on vacation. Now, pet owners look online for pricey dog sitters with fancy credentials, scour TripAdvisor for hotels that cater to pets, or even book a pet-friendly cruise. As we treat animals more and more like people, it's hard to tell pet-focused products and services from human ones. Guess which of these five pet services actually exists?
Of the many misconceptions about baby boomers, perhaps the one most perilous to marketers today is that those in the demographic aren't tech savvy. In fact, according to a 2016 Boston Consulting Group survey, boomers' top 20 favorite brands include Amazon, Apple, Dell, HP, LG, Samsung and Sony - all tech-related, and together more than a third of the list.
A few months back, we introduced the idea of the longevity economy. The convergence of new technology and the desire for boomers to age gracefully is going to generate many new business opportunities. Boomers have embraced personal technology, and they are as attached to their mobile devices as any card carrying millennial. Last week's Apple announcements provided a glimpse of where this is heading and how it plays into the longevity economy.
In a recent article, "All purchase decisions are made by people" Gavin Finn, CEO of Kaon Interactive wrote, "While data science and analytics have become an essential element of every modern marketing arsenal, it is wise to remember that people make all purchase decisions."