WATCH: How to target the ageing consumer

By Nikki Cutler

- Last updated on GMT

Despite seniors showing a strong interest in functional food and supplements, the number of products launched with senior claims in Europe does not reflect the population which means brands are missing out on a huge market, says Mintel.

More specifically, of all senior-positioned food, drink and healthcare launches between 2014-2018, only 16% were launched in Europe (Mintel GNPD). So why are products concentrating so ferociously on the younger markets and how can marketing campaigns successfully tap into the golden oldies?

In a new podcast​, Mintel’s analysts have discussed just this, pointing out that whilst Millennials and Generation Z make up a whopping 40% of the population, baby boomers are the second biggest biggest audience with the United Nations predicting seniors will make up almost 35% of Europe's population by 2050.

Alex Fisher, associate director for Mintel Beauty and Personal Care, says its not only the size of this generation that’s huge, but also their spending power.

She says: “A lot of these consumers might be expected to have grandchildren by the time they’re 55 but with people having children much later now that’s not necessarily the case and so they have a lot of extra money and they’re looking for other ways to spend their money and their time.”

Primed for health and wellness

Andrew McDougall, associate director for Mintel Beauty and Personal Care, adds that the health and wellness trends are massive right now yet products are nearly always aimed at younger shoppers when the older generations are a primed and untapped market.

“These consumers are living longer because they are being healthier,"​ he argues.

"In a way, it wouldn’t take much marketing to target this group as they are already well tapped into this trend.”

In a Mintel survey, consumer were asked if they agree with the statement "you need functional food and drink more as you get older". An impressive 38% of French, 42% of German, 61% of Italian, 54% of Spanish, and 59% of Polish consumers aged 55+ agreed.

Jack Duckett, associate director for Consumer Lifestyles Research at Mintel UK Reports, adds that this is easily the generation that could most benefit from being targeted with active lifestyle products.  

“Older groups are good at portion control and eating fruit and veg but one area where they fall down is fitness and exercise. Whilst fitness has become more fashionable we’ve pigeon holed it as being for the young. I would like to see an opening up of that health and fitness as being important no matter how old you are. That would help tackle loneliness and get people to be more active.”

Ducket adds that this market is not so far removed from their younger counterparts as marketeers tend to assume.

 “We target youngsters with messages of convenience all the time. We recognise that they’re busy and need products that ca save them time. But many over 55s are living very busy lives – they are still working full time, they might have to pick up the grand children from school, they also need to save time.”

Diversity on-trend

Often the entire 55+ generation is painted with the same brush, with advertising campaigns often just using one old person to represent the entire market but this is a far more dynamic group than people seem to think, argues Ducket.

“Diversity is a really important message in marketing in general at the moment as there’s a cultural movement towards ensuring we recognise all types of people.

“In fact, Mintel’s recent over 55’s lifestyles report revealed that 51 per cent of all over 55's believe they’ve gotten more open minded as they’ve aged.”

And questioning why campaigns for this generation are never a fun-focused as those for youngsters, Ducket adds that products made for the over 55s should be about so much more than anti-ageing.

“This generation is about going out more, enjoying life to the fullest, gaining new experiences and go on new adventures. Baby boomers are in the prime of their lives in many ways. They are a group that needs fun just as much as anyone.”


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