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A guest post by Spencer Broome of MediaFiche.

Since the 1960s, when advertising began targeting the growing Baby Boom generation, young people have been the apple of every marketer's eye. The prevailing wisdom is that when a brand aligns itself with young people, the brand is hip, fresh, or as Dad says, “It's the bee's knees.”

While that is well and good---perception is a powerful tool---it might not always produce consistent revenue. A pair of headlines in the news over the past few weeks---“In Shift, Ads Try to Entice Over-55 Set” from The New York Times, and “Young Affluents Ditch Traditional Media” from eMarketer Digital Intelligence---has given marketers something to think about in terms of prime target audience.

Aim Higher


In The New York Times piece, Bill Carter outlines how advertisers have come to realize that older people (55 and up) have more disposable income, more time, and just as much yearning for new products as the younger generation (classified as people between 20 and 34 years old). This is amplified even more because of the economic downturn of the past five years, which has hit young people among the hardest.

Think about it: Who is more likely to buy that expensive, new flat screen? A retired father who loves watching CSI: Sheboygan in HD, or the 25-year-old roommate who still eats the Cheetos he finds under the couch? Or how about that new lawn mower? The roommate's idea of growing plants is ... well, not what Grandmother had in mind.

Although that might be an over-exaggerated example, statistics show that, by and large, the baby boomers will purchase consumer goods in higher numbers. Revenue and demographics are on their side. And, on top of that, it is being proven that older people are buying into new technology just as consistently as the younger generation. Of course, this isn't across the board. Mom isn't going to buy the next PlayStation system; however, she may be in line for computers, tablets, phones, and cameras. After all, she needs a way to update her Facebook profile.

A Bucket or a Lake?


So, how many people really make up the affluents' group? For the study, young affluents were broken down into those under 35 years of age who make between $200,000 and $500,000, and those in the same age category who make in excess of $500,000.

Many advertisers are likely hopping all over that story: "Look, young affluents using more digital, less traditional! Over there! Go!" However, the rational person would have to assume this market is not very large. If brands can tap into that demographic and reap the benefits, great. But, it seems quite limited. Especially when considering the breadth and buying power of the Baby Boomer crowd.

Would advertisers rather shoot a basketball into a bucket of water or the lake down the street?

Consider Change


With all of this comes a consideration for marketers. Who should you be targeting with your next campaign? Will your brand be consumed and purchased by an older audience?

These are questions to ask within your team. And chances are that when you think about it, the advantages of advertising towards an older demographic will begin to take shape.

Large opportunities are out there with an older generation. They are watching more television than younger people---according to the New York Times, the median age for every network has moved upward since 2006---and, they are buying the right technology to receive advertising messages. Not keeping this in mind puts brands at risk of alienating an influential group of consumers, and, in turn, losing sales.

For marketers, it could be time for a change.

Spencer Broome is a marketing specialist at MediaFiche.

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