Why 55+ generation should be a lucrative market for brands

Silver Surfers also have very clear life priorities: stay healthy, stay connected, love and be loved, and experience new things and travel. Brands have plenty of opportunities to contribute in all of these spaces!

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Silver Surfers know perfectly well that regardless of the industry, most brands are not addressing their needs.
By Maria Garrido

The 55+ generation should no longer be referred to as Baby Boomers, but as Silver Surfers. They make up 18% of the world's population and their population is expected to get even bigger with a whopping 41% growth expected by 2030.

They are also much more tech savvy than brands and marketers give them credit for, with nearly half of them globally connected to the internet, using social media frequently and slowly but surely increasing their purchases online amounting to $7 billion a year. And yet, marketers seem to be ignoring this lucrative opportunity to sell products and services to this generation, practically turning a blind eye to the fact that Silver Surfers are STILL the generation with the highest purchasing power in the world. In the United States alone, they have 70% of the available disposable income.


Although few recognize the problem with only 13% of brand marketers thinking they address the needs of this generation effectively, nearly all of them expect their revenue derived from older consumers to increase significantly over the next five years.
Today, there are few sectors that adequately address this lucrative consumer target group. Silver Surfers know perfectly well that regardless of the industry, most brands are not addressing their needs. Surprisingly, one of the few industries which has started to reflect the Silver Surfer in a positive light and is practically on the cutting edge is the luxury goods sector, reflecting images of older and stylish models in their advertisements.

I suspect that part of the reason that marketers are ignoring this extremely obvious target group is because they themselves are not seniors and many have been caught up in innovating and directing products at millennials or GenZ, trying to capture younger targets before their consumption habits are fully formed. Though, I would question the cost per acquisition and then the investment in retention of a fickle millennial consumer vs. a Silver Surfer who tends to be more loyal in their consumption habits and also more likely to share their positive brand experiences with others, not motivated by the potential number of ‘likes’ on their Instagram feed.

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Reaching and adapting products to Silver Surfers is not rocket science. They know what they want from brands. They expect brands to play an active role in contributing to their quality of life. This can be translated into brand content that educates, helps and informs. For example, if a yoghurt brand aimed at Silver Surfers has the choice between providing sponsorship of a tennis player or nutritional advice on a user-friendly website or application, then the brand should consider spending less money and having better ROI with nutritional advice.

Silver Surfers also have very clear life priorities: stay healthy, stay connected, love and be loved, and experience new things and travel. Brands have plenty of opportunities to contribute in all of these spaces! New sites like NPR and Prismatic and even senior dating sites have caught on to these expectations and are adapting their products to the needs of Silver Surfers. I would hope that other sectors start to wake up from chasing youth and start to also tap into the massive revenue opportunities offered by Silver Surfers.

Reader’s Corner: Brand Equity received several telling responses to our cover story on ‘The Forgotten Generation’, the over-50 consumer who is typically ignored by brands and marketers chasing after millennials and Gen-Zers. But one letter truly stood out because it came from a much older consumer, Late Rele, who categorizes herself as “not old fashioned but not so modern either”. She shared her displeasure with the fashion and retail industry that simply ignore her needs and aspirations.

“You have touched upon the uppermost thoughts in my mind. I am 71 years old and always find it problematic to buy clothes. Most of the clothes available in shops are designed for the younger girls/ladies. I am not old fashioned but not so modern either that I can wear dresses/ short tops that are hanging over my neck and shoulders or have ends at the bottom shooting out in different directions. Sometimes the size is also a problem. 'Large' size is different for young and old women. Same thing with sarees. Multicoloured, dazzling colours is not something my generation of women would wear. Why can't they design smart clothes specifically for older women? I find just a few clothes after hunting through may be a hundred! These clothes have to fit our budgets too. We are not poor but not overloaded with money like the millennials! I am not so concerned about fancy things like nail cutters, etc, but clothes for sure. Hope your piece opens the eyes of some of the fashion designers. Thanks for opening the discussion on the topic.” – Lata Rele, Mumbai

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(The writer is chief insights and analytics officer for Havas Group)
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