Marketing Monday – Are You Targeting The Demographics?

Marketers have always chosen to aim for younger demographics. The common wisdom has always been to capture brand allegiance early and hopefully hold it throughout a person’s lifetime. That thinking is as dead as the people who thought up that strategy 100 years ago.

As business owners and marketers, we are always looking at the newest thing. The newest way to capture the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of younger people. We want them We want to reach out to them to get them to become lifelong patients and customers. We are chasing a ghost of what life was like 100 or even 50 years ago.

Long gone are the days when most people started full-time work with a company and retire from the same company 30 or 40 years later. The average tenure of employees in the U.S. today is just over 4 years. We move jobs. We move homes. We move cities. We are a population on the move like never before. There was a time when you could call a 212  area code and know that meant New York City. With phone portability, you are as likely to reach someone in New Mexico as you are in New York anymore.

Brand loyalty is just as fleeting. How many of you fly only one airline? Drink only one brand of soda? Buy only one brand of shoes? Watch the same network news show? We are all looking for the best value, whatever value means to each of us. Sometimes it is strictly dollars and cents. Sometimes it is the value-added. Sometimes it is the alignment with our personal beliefs or agenda. How many of you have started or stopped buying a brand or product because it was aligned with a star or political figure you agree or disagree with?

Your customers and patients are no different. They might do business with you because you offer the best value. They might do business with you because you are conveniently located. They might do business with you because their in-group does the same. For all those same reasons, they can stop doing business with you too. Loyalty is fleeting. So why not focus on those who can and will buy from you?

On the whole, we are living longer. Where the average American lived to be 58 back in 1920, we have added 20 years in the past century and can now expect to live on average to 78 as of 2020. While marketers have spent their time and money on Millenials and Gen Y, the over 50 crowd now account for over 1/3 of the population and over 80% of household wealth. That’s an over $8 trillion opportunity with a capital T in just the U.S. alone. This was something made clear in a recent release of the 2020 Century Summit convened by the Longevity Summit in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity.

50% of adults 18-34 wear eyeglasses in the U.S. Almost 80% of adults over 55 wear eyeglasses. So, with the over 50 population more likely to wear eyewear and have the money to buy the eyewear they want, why are you trying to look cool to someone under 30? Why are you worrying about being on Snapchat and Tik Tok when the majority of your customers and patients are regulars on Facebook and Instagram?

Most certainly there are exceptions to every rule. Demographics are fluid, ever-changing, not a steadfast rule. There are 25-year-olds are wanting the newest hottest hand-made eyewear with money in hand to easily pay $1000 for a custom pair of eyeglasses. There are 70-year-olds who work two jobs to barely make it every month too and who can only afford what Medicare or their work insurance allows. We don’t market to exceptions though….we market to where the money is. We market to where the desire is. We market to who and where we can make the most sales.

With so many American’s now over 50 it might be time to stop promoting as if you were targeting 25-year-olds and start thinking how to best reach 50, 60, and even 70-year-olds, who by the way, still feel 30 and 40….most days.

That’s not to say that all your imagery needs to show senior citizens. We all see ourselves as younger than we are. While no one will mistake me for a college freshman anymore, I don’t see myself as old by any means. My mind tells me I am still young and have a full head of hair, even though what little I have left is more gray than dark brown anymore. I look in the mirror and ignore the laugh lines and still see myself pretty much as I did 20+ years ago. I don’t want to be marketed to as if I am old, even though my teen years were seven Presidents ago. It’s not that images of younger adults wearing cool eyewear won’t appeal to me, it’s just placing them in channels I won’t see or visit that ends up being a waste. You won’t reach many 50-year-olds running a TV commercial on MTV’s The Challenge or Netflix’s Outer Banks.

“Hey, Boomer” may be a funny cut at this aging generation, but “Hey Boomer, Buy Here” might be what makes your store or practice a lot of money in the years ahead.