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Why Target the Elderly?

You may have noticed more TV ads lately--about medicines, etc.--that are obviously aimed at older viewers. Is this because they have more money than younger viewers, many of whom are out of work? Or could it be because their aging brains make them vulnerable?

Germany is a lot like the US, in that the median age is now above 45. But in the January 17th edition of the Financial Times, Norma Cohen quotes aging specialist Norbert Meiners as saying that in Germany, "the average age of staff at ad agencies is 33 years, and only 5% per cent of ad agency staff are over 50," meaning they often don't understand how to successfully market things to oldsters.

Advertisers who DO succeed have found that, while the elderly recognize that they're being targeted, they DON'T like to be reminded of their age. Cohen writes: "For example, a (cell) phone which was marketed to older users and featured big keys and simple signage, was a flop."

But a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with heated saddles and handlebars, and a gear shift that can be moved with one's foot, (giving it a riding position that does not require bent knees, good for people with arthritic joints) is a success.

Cohen quotes ad man Ken Gronbach as saying, "This is going to be the youngest generation of old people ever."

And marketers need those older consumers. Cohen quotes Gronbach as saying that not only are there relatively fewer young people in the core consumer age bracket, they are poorer, because "They can't get a job out of college."

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