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New Report Reveals New Zealand’s Marketing Blind Spot: The Over 50s

Jan 03, 2021
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New Zealanders over the age of 50 represent more than a third of the population, have the highest levels of wealth and disposable income, outspend Millennials in entertainment, auto, health, travel and almost every other category – but are largely ignored by brands, according to new research.

The WPP AUNZ report called Secrets & Lies – Ageless and Booming – also reveals that a whopping 94% of the over 50s in New Zealand dislike the way organisations and marketers communicate with them.

Rose Herceg, Chief Strategy Officer and Futurist with WPP AUNZ said the new study shows New Zealanders aged 50+ are clearly booming in number, and lifestyle, and embracing life with ambition, purpose, and money in their pockets. Almost two-thirds (61%) of New Zealand’s over 50’s say they’re living the best years of their life. But this ‘ageless’ outlook is poorly understood by marketers who often misfire with the demographic.

“One third of all New Zealanders are over 50, they have 49% of the country’s disposable income, and 59% of its private wealth and yet it’s almost impossible to find organisations and brands that understand this high value audience,” she said. “This is all the more startling when you consider the unrivalled opportunity that lies in their enormous purchasing power.

“It appears that marketing has an ageing blind spot – and as a result, many may be missing out on a significant new target. As an industry, we need to deconstruct every outdated idea about people over 50. We need to realise that they’re connected, they’re calling their own shots and they don’t like being labelled. To ignore them is folly – and misrepresenting them with bland imagery or assuming they are winding their lives down risks rejection. That could be a very expensive communications mistake to make in what is a highly challenging, and ever-changing marketplace.”

The new research also shows that despite what many may assume, the over 50s are not blindly loyal, with 92% of the over 50s in NZ open to trying new brands, while a further 83% having moved on from brands that are no longer fulfilling or meaningful: “Change is in the generational DNA of the over 50s,” Herceg explained. “We know they’ll happily move on from products or services that no longer meet their needs, and they are happy to forge new relationships with brands and people.”

Herceg said that contrary to popular belief, the over 50s are not slowing down, disconnecting or opting out. Instead the new Ageless & Booming report shows:

  • 85% of New Zealanders over 50 say they feel “very comfortable” with technology
  • 78% regularly research and buy products online
  • They also purchase a huge
    • 41% of all cars
    • 43% of all travel
    • 45% of all alcohol
  • 81% feel much younger than their age with 83% believing “60 is the new 40”

Herceg said that despite this incredible purchasing power and positive outlook, as an industry, less than 2% of the briefs received from marketers in New Zealand specifically target the over 50s. And with the number of Kiwis aged 65-84 expected to double between now and 2050, Herceg says brands need to change their approach now.

“Marketing is littered with images of the over 50s slowing down, disconnecting, opting out and generally frittering away their time. And yet for a considerable chunk of New Zealanders aged 50 to 79, this is a lie. The great majority of our over 50s audience don’t think of themselves as old. They reject the grey cliché of looking and getting old. And they have no time for brands and organisations that lazily shove them into that category.

“It appears that most brands and marketers fail to understand that the over 50s audience in New Zealand is a new kind of mass consumer, just as interested in ‘new’ as everyone else. So instead of continuing to ignore them, we need to get smarter and start targeting them with the vibrant and optimistic messaging that reflects their outlook on life. We need to engage them with the rigour and vigour they deserve.”

To help brands forge these relationships and better connect with the over 50s, WPP AUNZ has identified a six-point action plan for marketers which includes the following recommendations:

  • Get forensic and make sure you understand the data around this powerful demographic; their consumer behaviour, purchasing habits and intentions.
  • There’s a significant new market to explore
  • Invent new ways, new models, new products and new brand positions to connect with this audience
  • Ensure you are reflecting the vibrancy and optimism of the over 50s; they’re gearing up, not down
  • Recognise the change, and evaluate what role your brand or organisation can play for an audience that’s changing their lives
  • Differentiate between 50 and 80. The over 50s are not a homogenous group. Investigate their various sub-segments and target them accordingly.
  • Model diversity. Ensure your organisation values the skills, expertise and voices of the over 50s

Herceg concluded: “Those of us in the marketing industry have so far failed to fully appreciate and embrace this audience. But there’s still plenty of time. We are urging a rethink across the industry. After all, those organisations and brands that accurately relate to, and connect with, this audience will win their attention and gain a bigger share of wallet in an otherwise shrinking market.”

Ageless & Booming is the third and latest research report in a series called Secrets & Lies, which analyses the difference between what New Zealanders say and what they think or do. The public values reported. The private truths hidden. Commissioned by leading creative transformation company WPP AUNZ, it offers valuable insight into personal behaviour.

Source: WPP AUNZ

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