This week we attended an event called Middle Aged Until I Die, which explored how today’s extended middle ages (those aged between 50 and 64) are radically rewriting the rules of ageing and what this means for our marketing strategies. If your ideal client falls into this age category, this article is for you. Read on for key insights and mistakes to avoid.

Are you missing a trick in your marketing to the over-50s?

The opportunity:

There are now more than 24 million people over the age of 50 in the UK. They account for over one third of the total population and are forecast to grow to more than 30 million within the next two decades. 

This group accounts for an astonishing three quarters of the nation’s housing wealth. They are used to both spending an owning: a consumer force to be reckoned with.

Seven in 10 of them are working. Facing a later state pension age and inadequate private pension pots, many will need to work for longer. Staying ‘in the game’ is everything and they are redefining this stage of life as they go. They are no longer the ‘young old’. 

Key characteristics

There is little homogeneity among today’s 50-64 year olds. They hold a mosaic of attitudes, lifestyles and even life stages – far more varied than their parents’ generation. They are:

» Married (over 60%), but as many as 15% are likely to be divorced. A further 15% have never been married.

» Nearly half have adult children, but a third have no children.

» Working throughout their 50s and 60s – and this number is rising. Over half are in employment and a further 13% are in self-employment.

People in the 50-64 age group fall into two distinct segments:

1. Those who are happy to wind down

This sub-segment is looking forward to the prospect of retirement, following years of hard work. They are already anticipating slowing down and spending more time with their partner or grandchildren, and pursuing their hobbies and interests.

It’s interesting to note that this mindset doesn’t wholly correlate with the likelihood of having a financially comfortable retirement. Many acknowledge that they will have to cut back and adjust their standard of living to make retirement work. Most of those who own property plan to downsize to release equity in their home.

2. Those who are intent to keep going 

This group feels compelled to continue working throughout their 50s and 60s, and possibly into their 70s. Retirement feels like a distant reality.

Instead of financial obligations easing at this stage of life, they may well have increased. For example, they may be supporting their children or their ageing parents. The financial repercussions of divorce and the brutal impact of redundancy, or threat of it, are also common.

Furthermore, they are less willing to accept the idea of a subsistence level retirement, where they would rely solely on the state pension.

For many, the idea of retiring in one’s 60s, or even early 70s, now feels unrealistic. 

The stark reality is evident in the published statistics:

The most common marketing mistakes (are you guilty too?)

» One foot in the grave. When your marketing features talent that is much older, or they are talking about a product or service that probably holds more relevance for seniors. Do you expect a consumer who has just turned 50 to engage with content on funeral plans with imagery of people in their 70s?

» Second adolescence. Imagery of people sky diving, water skiing, zip lining, motor biking. Reality takes a back seat to hyperbole when there are attempts to over-compensate by showing that life after 50 doesn’t have to be about physical decline. 

» Life’s a beach (or a dance). Do your communications paint a trivial picture, without attempting to show that this audience might have rich or multi-faceted lives? After 50, does life become one long holiday, with endless walks or bicycle rides on the beach?

» Age-itude. This is where women are aligned through a bold, even bad-ass attitude (luckily, we don’t see much of this in financial adviser marketing). Age becomes overt, and is used as a badge of defiance.

» Still got ‘it’. Attempting to connect with a female audience by ’anointing’ them as still sexually attractive to the opposite sex. Women are shown flirting, often with men who are decades younger (cringe!).

» D for delete. While the first items on this list can alienate, so too can the sense of being ignored altogether, and feeling that they just don’t see many positive images of their generation in advertising.

It’s important to strike a balance if you are developing a marketing strategy for this important target market. Try not to generalise, but most of all don’t ignore this client segment altogether. You may find that the key insights within this piece can inform your approach.


This article was created for the DISCUS website based on recent research Middle Aged ‘Til I Die. You can view the full paper here