In the 1950s and 1960s, the Baby Boomer generation caused marketers to tear up their old playbooks and write a new one. The birthrate in the late 1940s surged to 26.5 per 1,000 people, compared to a low of around 18.5 in the late 1930s.
Now, that generation, which once warned “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” are hitting 70. MediaPost recently spoke with AARP Media Solutions senior director insights and marketing Mark Bradbury about the over-70 demo, how it is different from past generations and what marketers can expect. Below are excerpts of that conversation:
MediaPost: The over-70 demo is getting a big increase because the Baby Boom generation has hit that threshold, right?
Mark Bradbury: Yes, Boomers began turning 70 in 2016, and we are just beginning to see the effects. Today, Boomers are age 57 to 75, which means that a majority of them have yet to reach this milestone age. In fact, Boomers will continue to grow the 70+ population through 2034.
MP: What is the population of the over-70 demo in the U.S.?
Bradbury: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are an estimated 40 million adults age 70+ in the U.S. today.
MP: What is the source for the claim that this is the fastest-growing consumer segment over the next decade? How does it compare to other generations?
Bradbury: Using U.S. Census Bureau data, AARP Media Solutions calculates growth rates. We project that over the next 10 years (2021 – 2031), the 70+ population will grow by 15.6 million, compared to the 18-49 population, which will grow by about half as much.
MP: What are their favorite brands?
Bradbury: Adults 70+ are responsible for $1.1 trillion in annual spending on consumer goods and services. They make up 25% or more of all spending among 50+ adults in pharmaceuticals, health insurance, medical supplies, AV equipment, food at home, personal care products, apparel, entertainment, household furnishing and vehicle insurance.
MP: Which marketers are doing a good job marketing to this demo right now? Why?
Bradbury: Dozens of marketers have reached out to the 70+ consumer through AARP’s media properties. Among them, marketers that demonstrate a knowledge of this demo and provide value as it relates to supporting their passions and purpose are most successful with 70+ consumers.
MP: How is this over-70 demo different from previous generations? How should marketers react?
Bradbury: Adults 70+ largely came of age in the postwar era--a time defined by a sense of promise and possibility. As a result, they adopted a sense of empowerment that they could expect more from every stage of life than previous generations had. At this time in history, their expectations are bolstered by access to medical advances and healthier lifestyles that their parents simply didn’t have.
MP: How should marketers react? What's some advice you'd offer to market to this demo?
Bradbury: 70+ adults are pursuing passions and purpose and are highly receptive to brands that help them create the lives they envision. Marketers should act accordingly, demonstrating how they can help 70+ reach their goals.
They need brands to help them live their best lives, but they also need brands to make them feel like they still matter, that their lives have value. One of the hardest things for aging consumers is seeing themselves become invisible to companies and brands. What they want from marketers is what everyone else wants: to be seen, heard, understood and cared about.
Brands that make older consumers visible in their marketing will be the first to get their attention. Then, the goal is for brands to demonstrate an ability to help today’s 70+ create the lives they envision based on passions and purposes that are still possible later in life.