Some companies adapt their existing offering to make it more attractive and applicable to older consumers, such as Harley Davidson and Muller, whilst not alienating younger consumers.Conversely, SAGA develops products for the older market. Increasingly their profile and their offerings are growing more mainstream where the quality of the product or service is more important than the age group for whom they are targeted. Marketing is essential. The companies who have succeeded in marketing to all ages include Marks and Spencer and Dove.
This can be complicated. Some older people are tech-savvy, whilst others rely on more traditional media, radio, television and press. Older people can also be more responsive to tele-sales and direct mail campaigns. Companies are not sure where they can get the right advice on the channels to choose. As can be seen from this paper, however, in Newcastle and the North East there is an ecosystem of support for small and medium sized businesses that decide to grasp the opportunities of the ageing marketplace. A large amount of expertise exists within the region – in places such as Newcastle University, within Newcastle Science City and the HIEC - to assist companies or individuals who want to break into this market segment. Those who are able to effectively address these challenges will be well-placed to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the ageing demographic.
A leading newspaper’s motoring column recently commentated "Close your eyes for a moment and think of Volvo. What's the first image that floats into your mind?…Can you see the driver? He's probably a grey-haired pensioner heading to the golf club for an 11 o'clock sherry." Research has shown that media and marketing “are the most pervasive, systematic and identifiable sources of images that are detrimental to older audiences” and such perceptions of older people inevitably affect the general public’s impression of what it is age and and, make things more difficult for companies to market and sell to this age group. It is difficult for companies to successfully present themselves without seeming patronising and belittling to the very age group they are trying to target.
It is crucial to examine and really understand your current audience and the ones you wish to attract in the future to begin to develop the most effective products and services to older people. It is a difficult task to achieve, but get it right and the results can be rewarding.
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