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Why is content so ageist?

It was supposed to be a relaxed evening, but what Sairah AshmanSarah Jenkins and Kate Walters had to tell me was an eye-opener. The panel had come together at the private women’s business club AllBright to discuss this year’s trends, among them diversity and inclusion. Then, I raised the question of why we still largely ignore one group in content marketing: the over-60s. Kate Walters agreed: “Marketing is obsessed with youth”.

That seems strange given the fact that we all age, regardless of how we define ourselves. Although there are recommendable exceptions such as Indeed.com’s advert “The box”, today’s content marketing and overall content is still aimed at Millennials and, more and more, at Generation Z. Ageing isn’t seen as a natural process that we should embrace, but more like a Tsunami coming towards us. A danger. Headlines like “Europe’s demographic time bomb” don’t help.

That’s bizarre when we look at the consumer market. The global market for anti-ageing products, estimated at $52.5 Billion in 2020, is estimated to reach a whopping $83.2 Billion by 2027.

Why do advertisers (and their clients) risk alienating a very profitable part of their market? Just look at the numbers: by 2040, one in four people in the U.K will be over 65. Households made up of over 50s will most likely spend £550 billion a year. That’s £221 billion more than younger households.

Content marketing needs fewer stereotypes

At the moment, all we see in ads is the funky grandfather surfing in Hawaii, or the demented 85-year-old in a care home. There’s no middle ground. My mother travelled to India 3 years ago but had a knee operation this year. Age is not an either-or.

An active lifestyle looks different to the one we are used to from our 40s. When it comes to ageing, there’s a wide range. Why not show the cookie-baking grandmother alongside the single 75-year-old yoga teacher? It’s about time we realise that just as in younger age brackets, there is no one size fits all for the over 60s.

Devices for older people need to look more attractive

In the last decade, we have seen a massive change in the over-60s. They are more active and more aware of trends. They don’t want to resign themselves to joyless lives just because they might need the odd device to help them with daily tasks. There’s a considerable gap in the market for functional devices such as attractive-looking walking frames and ads that make these tools a natural part of the conversation. Why do they have to look so clinical, and the content marketing is so devoid of emotion? As Kate Walters recommends: “do advertising in a joyful way; people want to be entertained.”

Content has to reflect the reality of the new old generation

 When I was a child, 60-year older adults wear considered past their prime. Today, this perception has changed, but content produced for that age group doesn’t reflect that. Over 60-year-olds are much more in tune with the world, and active, than the generation before them.

There’s a lack of content that explains the new trends, such as Tik Tok or the metaverse that relates to their own life experience. Instead, we automatically assume that they’re not interested in new trends. That’s a grave mistake. We need to create more inclusive content and use the vast knowledge older generations have access to.

So how can your company create more inclusive content and attract this target audience? Start by interviewing the people you want to address. Customer surveys, the Holy Grail of content marketing, are also crucial.

Based on gender and racial bias research, we know that it’s helpful to have a diverse mix of people sitting in the boardroom when making content decisions.

I suggest you make sure your team includes at least one person over 50 or even 60. That can help avoid age bias and add a new voice to the conversation. Build an age-inclusive workforce and treat age as a diversity element and part of your business strategy, not an afterthought.

Avoid over generalisations like constantly referring to people as “Boomers” or “Millennials” that have become de rigueur on Tik Tok and other social media channels. They only reinforce stereotypes and reduce people to their age.

Remember that this age group is also the most affluent, so investing in that part of your business will increase your overall profit. It should therefore be a priority for your business.

Good content about ageing creates a positive brand image

Content marketing that shows older people still enjoying life in various ways isn’t only attractive to that age group: It’s also not creating a positive image of ageing in the younger audience. That, in turn, creates an overall positive brand image.

Today’s 40-year-olds will one day be in the over 65 age bracket and need different products. By investing in good content for the over 65s now, you’re simultaneously creating a positive brand image for your future target audiences. And even better, it’s low-hanging fruit as so few brands are positive towards ageing right now.

Ageist content does hurt not only society but also hurts our perception of ageing. It also reduces your profit and the chance of attracting an audience that is more than able to pay for your products. It’s time we stop glorifying youth and focus more on the over 50s. We won’t regret it.

First published on melodyflumendorf.co.uk

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