When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Germany

Another Grandma On A Bike? Why It's Hard To Market To Seniors

The over-50 age group holds enormous purchasing power, yet advertising aimed at older people often looks like cartoons of semi-active people happily going to the pharmacy. What can be done?

One out of five Germans is over 65 years old
One out of five Germans is over 65 years old
Felicitas Wilke

MUNICH — Advertisers have very clear ideas about the image to use to attract potential new customers in the "senior" demographic: salt-and-pepper hair, wrinkles (but only around the eyes), slender, athletic.

That's what most of the older models who appear in commercials look like. Yet, seeing them happily cruising the countryside on electric bikes or hugging each other, laughing, in commercials for prostate medicine, they look more like cartoon characters than real human beings.

The question is for how long the economy can pull along this old-fashioned train. In Germany there have never before been so many retired citizens — with demographics continuing in that direction. One out of five Germans is over 65 years old, and by 2060 it will be one out of three.

Last year, for the first time in history, we have more potential customers over the age of 50 than those between 14 and 49 years old. These numbers alone make this target group particularly interesting. "Many companies underestimate the potential of this "new generation" as a target group," says Ursula Friedsam who supervises the "66" trade fair for seniors in Munich.

Our youth-focused society tends to associate "old" as "unattractive," which leads to companies shying away from addressing them for fear of somehow offending them. "Unfortunately, it's pretty difficult to get the stereotypes out of the marketing departments," says Friedsam.

This hides another issue: Today "Over 50" includes several decades, which makes it hard to identify, define and study "the elderly" as a single demographic block with the same desires or interests.

Gundolf Meyer-Hentschel, a specialist in senior marketing, does not like to think of it as a target group, per se: "For marketing departments it's a hard nut to crack," he says. "Some start counting backwards once they hit 50, others stress how good they're still feeling at 78." Regardless, all acknowledge that more and more seniors are doing their shopping online.

With much invested in market research, today seniors are generally subdivided into four or five groups. There are the actives who are constantly traveling, or the conservative connoisseurs, who like to spend their money on such things as wine tastings. But too many companies associate seniors with cell phones with huge keyboards and spa holidays.

Do the math

In purely economic terms, people over 50 are a rather attractive clientele. One out of four men over 65 has more than 2,000 euros per month in disposable income to spend. Most seniors are not afraid to spend large amounts of money, even when it comes to everyday items. But they spend the money only if they are truly convinced. And the products must have a clear benefit — they usually aren't interested in purchases for the sake of a certain lifestyle.

"Companies need to have water-proof credibility in order to score with this target group," says Meyer-Hentschel. It's all about authenticity and empathy; or in other words: age-appropriate treatment without making too much of a big deal out of it.

Obviously, age does make a difference when it comes to the demand for certain products. At the recent "66" fair, demand was high for health related topics and travel. Technical innovations are increasingly popular: Tablets, computers, houses that are secure and manageable thanks to integrated technology like height-adjustable sinks that allow autonomy in one's home even at a later age.

What is perhaps most surprising is how physically active the age group is. Among the most sought after products is equipment for skiing. Keep an eye out for advertisements of handsome gray-haired people trading in their bicycles for a shiny pair of skis.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ