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Over 50: That Is Where The Money Is


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#1 iamlost

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 12:47 PM

Please when reading the following understand that I am, while quoting solid stats, speaking generally and not to any specificity. There seems to be a nasty strain of literalism inhibiting the ability to see possibilities beyond concrete examples in a distressing number of webdevs. Examples are just that, not a paint by number map. You need to be able to think, for yourself.

Whether they realise it or not webdevs are all in the marketing business including advertising. You are trying to 'sell' something be it only your own personal story of the day. Many, perhaps most, are either explicitly or implicitly selling products or services directly or indirectly or ad space that is. And far far too many are chasing the wrong audience.

That does not mean that who they are targeting with copy and images and what have you is not an audience just that it may well not be the best audience. Some US stats:
Those over 50 years of age:
* contribute half of all consumer spending.
* average thrice the assets of those younger.
* spend more per month, on average, on 'tech' than those younger.
Note: a younger generation may be requesting but may not be the one's actually buying. An interesting marketing paradox/opportunity.
* over the next 30 years the number of those over 50 will grow thrice those 18-49.
and so on and so on.

Despite the above just about everyone is targeting the younger generations (that's where 95% of all ad dollars go) and ignoring the over 50s. Of course for some products and services that is totally sensible and appropriate. However, for most it is not, it is chasing a minor audience rather than the major one; the one with the most discretionary funds, the ones who are older but not decrepit, the ones who buy for themselves - and for others.

I often speak of selling value over price when possible. Who has the time, means, and mentality to appreciate value? Yup, the over 50s.
Who is buying a lot of the 'toys' of the young? Yup, the over 50s.
Who buys most of the new cars, pricier real estate, et al? Yup, the over 50s.

Take a good hard look at your niche. At just who the audiences are. At which of those audiences are spending what, on what. You just might be surprised.

The current most valuable audience for most (not all) products and services either directly or indirectly are the over 50s. And this looks like being ever more true for at least the next generation. As one enterprising reporter back in the 50s (! :)) made up such an appropriate Willie Sutton 'quote' I just have to use it (even fake quotes can be real in our mythos): In reply to the question 'why do you rob banks' he supposedly replied, 'because that is where the money is.'

And while the money may be in banks it is owned - and spent - mostly by those over 50.



#2 bobbb

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 12:58 PM

I knew it was the older crowd but I had not guessed the line was as high as 50. Hmmmmm

#3 iamlost

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 01:57 PM

Of course, what I call the grandparent line, 40 to 50, is where the real 'jump' in discretionary spending happens. Kids are likely out on their own, mortgages are paid or greatly so, workplace position and earnings are typically at peak, etc. As that line is really rather broad I like to take the upper end, 50, which is statistically more definite.

 

However, you are correct that the preceeding decade is where the wealth change occurs and targeting it similarly is not necessarily a bad thing.

 

A generation is usually considered (1) a group born about the same time, with parents and grandparents of similar ages; (2) a period of 30 years that covers birth to giving birth. Which is natural as it comes from generation meaning procreation.

 

However, we are seeing generation more tied to behaviours, which certainly skews things, i.e. generation x is usually seen as being born 1960s to 1980s (20 not 30 years) but it's definition differs by country, sometimes quite a bit. Further generation y or millenials is even more vague - it's just the one after x...and then generation z is well who knows let's just start at 2000 for convenience... Frankly I prefer to do my own audience breakouts and not these amorphous letters...

Query: is generation z not going to have children?

 

 

 



#4 jonbey

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

In 1993/4 at uni we covered this trend in demographics and discussed how the market will change in years to come. We are there now. But people don't realise!

 

Maybe we all want to be young at heart ....

 

I will now focus on a few things for the "silver market", That is what we called it in 1993. No idea if that it PC today though ..... 



#5 bwelford

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 02:23 PM

There is that dreadful word, Zoomer. :(



#6 EGOL

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:20 PM

When I was younger I used to race in triathlons. 

 

A racing bike then with carbon frame, carbon wheels and other fast stuff would cost a few thousand dollars.

 

None of the young, fast people could afford those bikes....  but the old, slow, fat farts were buying all of the best equipment.

 

Fortunately, the bike shop had a few great bikes that they would lend to fast people who didn't own one.



#7 clandestino

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 04:21 PM

Valuable insight.

 

A couple of thoughts --

 

1) Location demographic may be important -- 50+ technology purchasers may not tend to come from Iowa, for example.

 

2) Young purchasers have a greater propensity to become evangelists -- so their value may be greater than their purchase alone.



#8 jonbey

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 04:39 PM

why is everyone typing in italics?

 

ah, it is my fault!!!! (+ edit)


Edited by jonbey, 02 February 2013 - 08:40 PM.
realisation that html in signatures is not automatically tidied up to prevent changes to styles of future posts. As an example my sign now has open STRONG and EM tags......


#9 bwelford

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 04:44 PM

I'm that way inclined. :)

 

... but apparently not at the moment.



Valuable insight.

 

......

 

2) Young purchasers have a greater propensity to become evangelists -- so their value may be greater than their purchase alone.

I disagree entirely. :)


Edited by bwelford, 31 January 2013 - 04:42 PM.


#10 cre8pc

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 06:29 PM

Whoa...testing italics



What the heck?  You didn't choose italics....



And now my stuff is in italics...dang it!  ghosts in the place



#11 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 06:54 PM

And, I might note -- if you're wanting to pursue the over 50 market, you really need to think hard about accessibility issues. The age-related vision changes that start to happen after 40 and continue through...well, end of life are pretty significant if you're targeting that market!

 

Vision changes with age are well-documented ("presbyopia" is the technical term, which is not terribly surprising...)

 

People don't start to consider themselves "disabled" when they start to need reading glasses; but that won't change the fact that they can't read itty-bitty font sizes.

 

Accessibility is not just about people who self-identify as disabled!



#12 iamlost

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:32 PM

Chuck is channelling the collected wisdom of the majority of advertisers...and their agencies...
BUT
as Barry, I disagree, respectfully of course. :)

Note: sorry, quote seems to have gone wonky on me

chuckfinley: Location demographic may be important -- 50+ technology purchasers may not tend to come from Iowa, for example.

Iowa is farm country and there is little more tech heavy business than the modern farm or tech savvy than the modern farmer. And the average age of farmers in the US is over 50.
Note: I have recently received an education from my son-law as he is an farm boy - from a 'small' 4-section (4-square miles = 2560 acres = 10.36 square kilometres) family farm.  

I do of course agree that location is important - because of the people. And don't ever believe that older means less interested or less involved or less savvy. Plus as I mentioned, older usually means more disposable income. What location usually means is that the tech they are interested in may differ, not that they aren't buying it.

chuckfinley: Young purchasers have a greater propensity to become evangelists -- so their value may be greater than their purchase alone.

There is no typical age for a cause or brand or whatever evangelist. They are simply people who feel deeply and speak out, in a 'good' way. While younger people can certainly be such evangelists their attention span tends to be significantly shorter; they may - likely will - jump ship to some other passing bandwagon that catches their attention.

Older evangelists tend to hold their opinions longer and as most of the people they influence are of a similar age and as that is where (usually) the (most) money is...

However

Despite my disagreement with Chuck's comments they do hold certain truths that must be mentioned:

* he used location only as an example.
Geographical audience segmentation is right up there with behaviourial, demographical, firmographical, psychographical... You also need to remember that ~20% of a given audience (segment) will provide ~80% of revenue. The 'trick' is correctly identify that 20% and match their wants/needs/desires with your product/service differentiation.

* young people do have a great propensity to become fans (rather than evangelists) and it does seem to be communicable. Treat this phenomenon much as a viral video: ride the wave while it lasts but have a strategy for afterwards. And, as with viral video, expecting to 'make' fans is not usually as simple as making an older evangelist.

Depending on your niche you may well be wanting the skills that the producers of 'boy' bands have: packaging what will appeal to young girls. Example only :) reword to be niche appropriate.

I'd like to restate what I wrote in the OP:

Take a good hard look at your niche. At just who the audiences are. At which of those audiences are spending what, on what. You just might be surprised.


Do NOT take what I have been saying and remodel your site to appeal to old fogies.
DO take what I've been saying and do YOUR market audience segmentation and analyse YOUR metrics, then make an informed decision.

#13 jonbey

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:43 PM

but also design everything to fit on those little mobile phones as well ..... 

 

maybe that is why tablets were invented.



#14 bobbb

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:47 PM

Neither of those seem to be easy to work when you have fat fingers :)

#15 iamlost

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:18 PM

Neither of those seem to be easy to work when you have fat fingers :)

 

suggested edit: Neither of those seem to be easy to work when you have fat large muscular masculine fingers :D

 

Either way, I agree.



#16 fullscale4me

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 12:05 AM

I think the big takeway on what's being said above is don't discount those at the edge of what you think are your site's demographics. Who can afford to throw away a few percent in sales?

 

A local business (not my web customer) who's demographic is ages 45-65 with food and live music. In their case that age group is doing >80% of their spending. They recently redid their website with microscopic type (9pt), locked in size (it doesn't zoom) URL decoration none and no coloring behaviour, 3rd part blog that links shared on facebook look shabby  .....I could go on and on. All updating is past the main page - front page talks of hurricane Irene (last year!). All the work of a 2012 MBA in Marketing graduate!

 

My non profit's sites have changed hugely as I've aged (59) for their betterment. I listened and adapted when others suggested letting the users determine things like type size, icon zize, % of whitespace, line length, expanse of click zone hot spot, linking of graphics and even what some consider SEO niceties of redirecting www.example.com to example.com.


Edited by fullscale4me, 01 February 2013 - 12:06 AM.


#17 clandestino

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 05:04 AM

The lesson --

 

Be aware that all is not as is seems or as you think it might or should be.

 

@iamlost's insights are views that can only be proven by actual market research.  In order to develop a survey that will produce valuable results, you need to consider the possibilities that @iamlost suggests, though.  That's how you can develop questions that uncover a niche your competitors never even thought of.

 

However, there's more to it than everybody over 50 and everybody under 50 --

 

Although farmers are businessmen, can add, and use a computer; there aren't that many farmers back there any more.  Family Farms are disappearing and Big Farm Companies are replacing them.  I grew up in Minnesota farm country.

 

If you compare people in the Mid-West to people in Silicon Valley, there is a huge difference in their understanding of and willingness to embrace technology.  There is a huge difference in early adopters too.  A very large difference -- did I say huge! :)

 

That's important, in addition to age. Depending on the type of product, you may want to focus on the high tech zones and over 50, for example.

 

The type of product will make a difference too --

 

Look at the demographic that purchase Apple products -- very young and very likely to evangelize the products, ask Guy Kawasaki -- he was in charge of Evangelism at Apple in the old days.

 

Competition is important too --

 

If everyone is thinking that over 50 is the place to be, it may not be that lucrative for you to chase because you don't have the budget that the large companies do.  You can easily go out of business trying.  Sometimes it's better to find a unique approach that allows you to monopolize a small niche.  And once you do -- don't tell anyone!

 

Point - Consider it all for the best results --

 

There are many opportunities in many different demographics, psychographics and probably other graphics too.  The one that will be most valuable, is the one that you are positioned to take advantage of.


Edited by chuckfinley, 01 February 2013 - 05:23 AM.


#18 Ken Fisher

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 05:26 AM

Evangelism? What's up with the use of this word? I first started hearing it used at Adobe. Somebody needs to change/add some dictionary definitions.

 

No italics here...in  preview mode



#19 clandestino

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 05:42 AM

Evangelism? What's up with the use of this word? I first started hearing it used at Adobe. Somebody needs to change/add some dictionary definitions.

 

Selling the Dream, by Guy Kawasaki, How To Promote Your Product, Company, or Ideas -- And Make A Difference -- Using Everyday Evangelism --> http://www.amazon.co...saki evangelism

 

He included his full Evangelism Plan from Apple in the book.

 

Guy defines evangelism --

 

Evangelism is the process of convincing people to believe in your product or idea as much as you do.  It means selling your dream by using fervor, zeal, guts, and cunning.

 

In contrast to the old-fashioned concept of closing a deal, evangelism means showing others why they should dream your dream. 

 

My Definition --

 

Viral word of mouth advertising.


Edited by chuckfinley, 01 February 2013 - 05:53 AM.


#20 jonbey

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 05:42 AM

OK, I fixed the italics problem.

 

I changed my sig the other day and there was a stray em.

 

It just occurred to me I was seeing italics after my first post here.

 

Sorry.



#21 earlpearl

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 01:29 PM

Have two types of smb's/services.  Sort of bumbled into both of them.  One definitely has a younger demographic...say late teens to about 35.  One has an older demographic and is oriented toward higher income folks.  Say 40 and up with mid 40's to mid 50's being prime.

 

Price points on the smb's for the older generation are way higher.

 

So much of everything about the two types of businesses are extraordinarily different.   There are overlaps though.  High SE visibility for appropriate keywords is similarly important...its just that the over 40's never search for the one type and the under 40's never search for the other type.



#22 clandestino

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:11 PM

Have two types of smb's/services.  Sort of bumbled into both of them.  One definitely has a younger demographic...say late teens to about 35.  One has an older demographic and is oriented toward higher income folks.  Say 40 and up with mid 40's to mid 50's being prime.

 

Price points on the smb's for the older generation are way higher.

 

So much of everything about the two types of businesses are extraordinarily different.   There are overlaps though.  High SE visibility for appropriate keywords is similarly important...its just that the over 40's never search for the one type and the under 40's never search for the other type.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Out of curiosity, which one buys more, measured in terms of gross margin?

 

Which one is easier to market to?


Edited by chuckfinley, 01 February 2013 - 08:12 PM.


#23 earlpearl

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:48 PM

gross margin isn't a good metric.  they are services.   Its really revenues against a soft set of fixed expenses which mostly are a reflection of salaries and a different set of other costs.   I see salaries as a fixed cost for the most part in that the smb's can't operate well w/out good people.

 

The one to older folks, when its doing well makes more in all locations.  but it also tends to swing more.

 

We market and sell ALWAYS.  We work hard on revenues all the time.  We monitor cash flow all the time.  

 

They are all hard.  each in different ways.  we have two that have been very good for a long time.  Its always the personnel in these cases.  We haven't been able to always get the right people.  That is the bigger hurdle.  Even the consistently good one's have hurdles.  We are facing one of those in one of the two good ones.



#24 DCrx

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 03:39 AM

A great discussion topic for UX practitioners to reveal a weath of knowledge about.

 

I shan't hold my breath for it though.

 

First off, do preconceived notions turn into self fulfilling prophesies? A newspaper was sure younger readers prefered their online edition and older people were stuck on print. The timeworn "old folks don't like change" argument. Surveys told it so.

 

And, as we know, survey results come written on stone tablets.

 

Turns out the designer was in his early twenties, with perfect eyesight. Changing the small (fixed) text size and related changes rendered this notion false. That said, how does the use of iOS devices trend? It's all well and good to dream about large disposable incomes ...but where is the target group spending it?

 

Sure, there may be a vast hoard of 70plusers on Android, because hey, who doesn't love Linux down at the old folks home. "You whipper snappers have it so easy. When I was your age we had to root our phones the old fashioned way!"

 

Um, yeah ... about that ... Android may skew even younger.

 

50 and up have pioneered certain tech adoption, but for very different reasons than younger people. Best to study and understand rather than moon about a magical strap-on income bracket. You may alienate your core audience.

 

Will Facebook's new users push out its core audience? A June study
from online gaming site Roiworld found that 16 percent of younger users
leaving Facebook did so because their parents had joined. Another 14
percent left because they thought there were too many older people using
the site.
Internet Users Over Age 50 Flocking to Social Media

Edited by DCrx, 02 February 2013 - 03:58 AM.


#25 bobbb

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 01:15 PM

Guinness sales are down in Ireland among the younger because it's their dad's drink.

#26 earlpearl

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:31 AM

Chuck:  The two types of smb's in which I'm involved only provide anecdotal examples.  Its nothing I'd hold my hat to in terms of wider issues or questions of how money is spent in general or where there are opportunities.



#27 clandestino

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:15 PM

Chuck:  The two types of smb's in which I'm involved only provide anecdotal examples.  Its nothing I'd hold my hat to in terms of wider issues or questions of how money is spent in general or where there are opportunities.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

I was curious about your experience because I know you focus on Local, thanks. 

 

I suspect there are a lot of factors that make everyone's situation different.  3 important factors -- 1) existing product positioning, 2) locations, and 3) available budget.


Edited by chuckfinley, 05 February 2013 - 11:21 PM.




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