Robin Gunn: Why 50-plus consumers are worth the advertising dollars

We’ve all heard the following frequently quoted statistic: Advertisers concentrate on consumers who are 18 to 49 years old. It’s been that way for decades, and it’s time for it to change. Seniors make up 50% of all consumer purchases, but only 10% of marketing dollars are spent on them. It doesn’t make sense, does it? Companies are definitely missing out on a huge opportunity when they don’t market to the 50-plus demographic. Here are five important reasons why companies definitely need to be marketing and targeting this age group.

1) As a group, consumers 50-plus simply have more money! According to JWT Worldwide, the largest advertising agency in the United States are seniors. They control 75% of our nation’s financial assets, control 70% of our country’s net worth and spend over half of all discretionary spending. This group also owns more homes than any other age group, purchases 41% of all new cars and spends 74% more on vacationing than those under 50. That’s a lot of purchasing power! Companies are missing out on a huge market by ignoring this largely affluent group.

2) 50-plus will continue to be a growing demographic. Those 50 and over have the highest projected growth rate of all age groups. It does make sense since they’re called baby boomers because there are so many of them. There are over 75 million baby boomers in the U.S., and they’re all over 50 years old now. The AARP reports nearly 10,000 adults turn 65 every day.

3) The expected lifespan is much longer for today’s seniors. Besides the sheer number of them, today’s seniors are also going to be around much longer. People currently over 50 will live longer, healthier lives than any generation before. Among those 50-plus, 16 million report that they exercise at least three times a week. Due to this and other factors, life expectancy has increased by 30 years over just the past century.

4) People over 50 have more leisure time than any other age group. This demographic has time. Even more importantly, they’re using it to travel, participate in leisure activities, work out and spend money on themselves and their families. In fact, one-third of them are considered heavy interest users with shopping being their second more prevalent online activity. According to the U.S. News and World Report, those 65 and up spend nearly seven hours a day on leisure activities. More leisure time means more spending opportunities.

5) The active lifestyles of today’s 50-plus are much different from previous generations. More than their parents or grandparents, today’s 50-plus generation is looking for ways to enjoy this time in their lives. This group is full of enthusiastic and optimistic people who are not ready to consider themselves as old, and they’re fighting aging with everything they’ve got. At the same time, nearly one-third of seniors become separated, divorced or widowed. Many of them are rejoining the dating scene. Possibly because of these major life changes, seniors today are spending more money on their health, appearance and social lives than ever before. It must be working because according to the marketing company, Sheer ID, 69% of seniors believe the best years of their lives are still ahead of them.

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Seniors are in need of resources that will benefit their lifestyle choices. Also, it’s crucial that companies market to and make these resources available to their adult children who often oversee much of their parent’s care. I strongly encourage all companies to not miss out on marketing opportunities to these consumers. If they ignore them, then they’ll miss out on a huge income opportunity. This demographic has more purchasing power than any other age group. The companies who learn to tap into this market will reap the rewards and so will the 50-plus and their families.

Robin Gunn is the owner of The Oklahoma Senior Journal. She can be reached at


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