Use of ‘senior’ a marketing mistake

THE over-50s market is not brand loyal, demands quality and services and doesn’t associate with the word ‘senior’.

Those are just a couple of facts to be considered when marketing to older consumers, and according to advertising executives spoken to by WA Business News, marketers need to understand the different segments that make up the over 50s and tailor specific communication messages to them.

It seems that ‘senior’ is very much a dirty word unless it is associated with ‘discount’ and should be avoided in communication messages, according to leading Perth advertising executives.

MJB&B Advertising and Marketing client services director Callum McKenzie said the first mistake made by most marketers was the use of the term ‘senior’.

“We have people working here that are 55 or 56 and they are by no means ‘seniors’. People work longer and there are different stages of retirement,” he said.

“Also, most people in this bracket view themselves as 10 years younger.”

The Brand Agency partner Colin Mackay-Coghill agrees that the term senior will often render a marketing message null and void.

The term ‘over 50s’ or ‘grandparents’ is preferred.

And simply marketing a product or service to the over 50s may not necessarily work. Greater segmentation is often required to determine which stage of the senior cycle a person might be at, from fully retired and affluent to semi-retired, or still working.

Understanding this cycle can create a good market to sell products and services to, according to Mr McKenzie.

“In the first two to three years of receiving the super pay-out they go out and splurge,” he said.

Mr Mackay-Coghill said they usually spent more money than younger consumers.

“They are much more willing to buy higher-priced products than younger people. More than 60 per cent say they prefer quality over price,” he said.

“They like credibility and they are fairly savvy about being taken for a ride. If you run a credible organisation that has been operating for decades, then tell them.”

Mr Mackay-Coghill said this market segment also preferred the straight-out facts rather than fluffy branded ads.

Mr Mackay-Coghill, who researched the over-50s market before the agency launched the RAC’s first over-50s advertising campaign last year, said the common belief that the segment was brand loyal was a myth.

“Most of them grew up in the information era and it wasn’t like that 20 or 30 years ago,” he said.

“There were fewer brands in the marketplace whereas today’s over 50s grew up post-war and have grown up with a lot of change. They are used to making choices and changing brands,” he said.

Mr McKenzie said it was extremely important not to make broad generalisations about that market sector and it would become increasingly important.

“The danger for most marketers is to make generalisations about that sector. They are demanding and they know what they want,” he said.

Mr McKenzie said people aged between 55 and 65 didn’t necessarily expect to receive discounts, however they wanted recognition.

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