Apart from highlighting innovative design, the exhibition suggests that aging should be an important consideration for brands, pointing out that half the population in Europe will be over 50 by 2020. In many countries, as our Elastic Generation trend report on the UK boomer consumer found, the over-50s also have the most spending power—77% of financial wealth belongs to this age group in Britain.
A piece from advertising agency Karmarama at New Old demonstrates how advertising can help dispel stereotypes and redefine what it means to be old. Responding to a brief to reposition aging as something desirable, the agency created a library filled with books by a fictional author, highlighting the wisdom acquired with age. Titles ranged from Heartbreak Vol I and Vol II to Failing in Style.
Another piece from agency Mother repositioned age as aspirational, likening older people to fine wines and spirits. With valuable bottles numbered from 50 to 90, milestones of aging are celebrated as desirable. As Myerson puts it, the “elixir of youth becomes the elixir of age.”
Previously, JWT Intelligence identified the concept of aging as something enviable and aspirational in our Elastic Generation research, which suggested that this “cult of elasticity” compares with the cult of youth. This generation is not yearning for their younger years; instead, they feel a stronger sense of confidence and freedom to be themselves than ever before.
“Advertising has been guilty of a lot of stereotypes of older people,” says Myerson, “but advertising has the wonderful capacity to reposition aging in a more positive way.” Current approaches are not working: our research for Elastic Generation found that 82% of boomers in the UK don’t recognize themselves in ads.
As the older population continues to grow, the time to reposition aging is now. It’s time to listen to older adults and represent them in truthful and authentic ways.