Nielsen: Advertising Boom Targeting Older Residents Needed


Wading into the ceaseless debate regarding whether advertisers are too focused on younger consumers, Nielsen has joined the chorus questioning why there is not more emphasis on reaching the swelled baby boomer segment.

The measurement company says that by overly focusing on demos such as 18-to-34 and 18- to-49 year-olds, "advertisers and consumer goods manufacturers are overlooking a group that has tremendous buying power." There are an estimated 78 million boomers, where the oldest are about 64 and the youngest around 46, meaning they are about to age out of the advertiser-coveted demos.

Nielsen says ad dollars spent looking to reach the 35-to-64 demo are estimated at less than 5% of the overall pie.

Yet not only do some boomers have significant disposable income, but there is a hunger to embrace technology. To be sure, younger consumers spend time in Wi-Fi-enabled locales, but Nielsen says boomers are more likely to have broadband connections at home.



They also make up a third of tweeters and social media users, while they turn to DVRs to time-shift TV more than 18- to-24-year-olds.

Looking at the top-10 most-trafficked Web sites for boomers and, separately, for 18- to-34-year-olds, eight are the same, including Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia.

For the non-overlaps, the boomers' top 10 includes and, while 18- to-34-year-olds use Fox Interactive Media sites heavily (which include MySpace) and, likely looking for iTunes.

Even as ad dollars perhaps stray from them, Nielsen says boomers account for 39% of dollars spent on consumer packaged goods -- and they spend more in 1,023 of the 1,083 categories in the segment.

Nielsen executive Pat McDonough states that boomers should be as "desirable" for marketers as millennials and Generation X: "As the U.S. continues to age, reaching this group will continue to be critical for advertisers."

4 comments about "Nielsen: Advertising Boom Targeting Older Residents Needed".
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  1. Kathleen Iskow from KWBQ KASY, July 20, 2010 at 10:03 a.m.

    I have one question for the Nielsen many cars do they think a 58 year old is going to buy int he next 30 years? How many is a 25 year old going to buy? It is all about reaching people who are in the formative years of setting thier brand preferences. Older people do far less brand changes than younger, and the success of any company relies on building new customers. No marketer wants his company/product to end up like Oldsmobile.

  2. Steve Beverly from Union Broadcasting System, July 20, 2010 at 12:40 p.m.

    Note to Kathleen: I know you're in the long-traditional business of going after 18-34s and 18-49s. Here's a bit of news for you: I'm 55, I've never bought an Oldsmobile or Buick. I own two late-model Toyotas and a Dodge Caravan. My home is paid in full, so I have a significant amount of extra disposable income each month. I am an avid enthusiast of state-of-the-art electronics and computer ware, none of which could be defined as junk products. I own two satellite radios. When HD radio comes to my market, I'll buy an HD radio. I have never taken Geritol, I don't eat 100% Bran Flakes and I don't use Poli-Grip.

    True, I am not interested in the latest trip to the bathroom by Kim Kardashian, Aisha Tyler or Britney Spears. I probably would not watch many things on your station or any other network affiliate, for the fact, aside from news and sports because I would see very little content that reflects my worldview or few people who look like me. I don't care to turn on television and be subjected to profanities, dark violence and sexual dialogue that is no longer just innuendo. If that makes me King of the Curmudgeons, I'll gladly take it. So I exercise my right, at 55, to change the channel or turn my set off....and I find myself doing it far more frequently. Thank goodness for The Hallmark Channel.

    By the way, are you aware that the groundswell of online campaigning for an 88-year-old woman, namely Betty White, to host "Saturday Night Live" came from younger people? Seems to me a check of the Nielsens for that "SNL" revealed the highest-rated episode of that series in more than two years. All of that folderol over an old lady the industry just can't seem to cast aside. Guess that was bad for television.

    Kathleen, I'm sure you are a fine person and you have at heart what the advertising and television industries have conditioned its personnel, its writers, its executives and those who review and write about its activities to accept. So nothing personal here.

    However, if the broadcast and advertising industries were held as accountable as other businesses are to federal law, they would be vulnerable to a class-action lawsuit from viewers nationwide for age discrimination. The primary reason the voices of over-50s are not heard is people in that demographic have long since abandoned complaining because when we do, most of you in the industry either don't listen, don't care, or dismiss us as inconsequential. As a professor at Troy University told his students recently, "Four years ago when I turned 50, television and advertisers declared me dead."

    For the record, lest you think I am just a crusty old curmudgeon sitting in my rocker: I am a college professor, a former long-time television news director and one who is around people between 18 and 22 on a virtual daily basis. I can verify: unless they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, and few of them are, the people in that coveted younger demographic typically have precious little disposable income and will be challenged for 10 to 12 years beyond graduation to pay off their expensive school bills.

    That Oldsmobile may be out to pasture in a junkyard but turning 50 does not mandate one is instantly subservient to gastroenterologists, Cream of Wheat or AARP. I'm not optimistic the broadcast industry will ever "get" that but thank heaven Nielsen is attempting to raise its awareness.

  3. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, July 20, 2010 at 1:26 p.m.

    25 years ago as a fledgling media researcher at Y&R I wrote a white paper on the mature market to prepare clients as the first Baby Boomers approached 40 ("Dynasty's" Joan Collins was on the cover as she just turned 50!). Thereafter it seemed I wrote a Mature Market paper every 5 years. Did it all fall on deaf ears? I don't believe it did and I think more advertisers target older consumers than is generally credited.

    Since older adults view considerably more TV buyers sometimes reassure advertisers that they'll be able to catch them on shows targeted to younger demos. Also, some clients I've had would go after younger targets with TV and older consumers with magazines.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, July 20, 2010 at 5:52 p.m.

    A bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush. Better to have 1 58 year old who can pay for the car than 100 25 year old who can't.

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