I am proud to say that I belong to the generation that is now over the age of 50, even if advertisers and marketers scarcely give me a second look — a feeling that most married people are familiar with, as their spouses have been studiously ignoring them for years!
Let me give you a sneak preview of what some of my friends, who are in a similar age bracket as me, are doing.
One of my friends has just bought an SUV because he loves driving, and once in a while, will drive to Coonoor to check out his latest holiday home. Another one of my friends is on a Mediterranean cruise with his wife — who is a VP at a pharmaceutical major — and his two working, grown up children.
My son, who is working in London, is checking ticket availability for me for the Champions Trophy cricket tournament next year, while another friend is busy booking 10 tickets of ₹3,000 each for the Jeeves and Wooster show next month in Bengaluru for our group of friends.
As you can see, while many of us have 'been there and done that’, we are not actually done and dusted as consumers. But what do we get from marketers and people in advertising? A bored indifference to my breed which actually buys products and services, goes on holidays, visits their children abroad for their graduation, and owns assets!
Yes, we don’t trade pictures on Instagram. Does that make us less attractive as consumers? Look at all the advertising that comes on TV. How much of it is targeted at us? The only recognition we get is in the form of doting grandparents in commercials for financial products that no one watches! Come on guys, give us a break!
I am an individual
So what would I want as a consumer? It is an adage as old as the hills but each one of us is different as a consumer. Yet we have these allegedly sexy commercials, either on mass television or on YouTube, that leave us cold.
They don’t speak our language, and pass us by like ships at night. They are as effective as Hindi commercials being proudly shown in Tamil Nadu. Nobody cares, much less understands, what is being sold!
Remember good old data-based marketing with long copy, an offer, and a response device, which could be customised? You have my database, know my age, my spending pattern and perhaps even how many drinks I have. Why not use the data to woo me with customised offers and, for God’s sake, in a font size that I can read!
I have more time than the harassed generation, and have actually earned my holidays. Why not design holidays for my generation — like a golfing holiday and shopping trips? Why not a retirement community that is not an old age home, that is run sensibly and smartly, never mind the price. Why not a different smartwatch with all the features such as number of steps along with with other features for people of my age; maybe a smarter dial?
Why not design products and services that are classier, better thought-out, customised and sold? Yes, my generation values relationships. Incongruous though it may sound, I have had the same spouse for 34 years. When did you build a relationship with me, other than having a relationship manager who is changed every three months!
So what’s the problem?
I am sick and tired of the statement that India is a young country and that over 50 per cent of the population is below the age of 25, repeated ad nauseam. Well good luck to them, but when will they make their first million?
If you think they will be hooked to you for life and you will reap lifetime value from them, then you have another guess coming. No one is asking you to ignore them completely. All we are saying is don’t ignore us studiously — as you have been doing.
Today, with more and more marketers and advertising agencies teeming with people in their late 20s and early 30s, they are comfortable creating ads and offers for each other. I am not sure they understand “their dad’s generation”, and have generally good natured contempt for it. But that’s not the way to build targeted, marketing programmes. They don’t have the ability, even if they are pushed to have the interest.
Wake up CEOs
While many start-ups have CEOs whose hair has still not started to grey, in many other companies, the people who run it are much older. It is up to them to show the way and more significantly, change the way their marketing department looks at us. They must insist on older people handling agency relationships and invest in research in the silver generation, if I can call ourselves that.
Who knows? They might just strike gold!