Will You Take My Money If I Wear a Bag Over My Head?

As we age, we become invisible to retailers. That’s what Darryle Pollack of the Huffington Post is saying, and she’s not the only one. Quoting her article, “Though our numbers are growing faster than we can count, we don’t count in the eyes of image-makers and marketers. When we reach a certain age, we’re toast — burnt toast.” She cites an article in the NY Post, with this aggravating factoid:

About a year ago, executives at CNBC were alarmed to discover that they’d suddenly lost one-third of their audience. They couldn’t figure it out; news programming, as a rule, attracts the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. So the network delved into the data with the Nielsen Company and made a startling finding: That missing one-third was, in fact, still there. They were no longer being counted as viewers, because they’d turned 55.

It’s not that I’m insulted. I mean, I am, but the larger point is, what business can afford to ignore so many dollars and such a large and growing segment of the economy? Ad exec Lisa Thompson of Firespring gets it, though. She thinks we’re actually worth pursuing, and blogs here about how incredibly short-sighted it is for businesses to ignore our demographic.

My take? As an older person, I remember going to buy a car and the dealer ignoring me unless the conversation turned to colors. That certainly changed, and this will, too. In the meantime, look for age-responsive advertisers, and talk it up when you find a business that’s smart enough to respect us. Ultimately, businesses will notice.


  1. Amy says

    Happens to me all the time as a middle-aged female. Try sitting in a restaurant for a few minutes and see how long it takes the server to get around to you…… FOREVER! Hate it.

  2. says

    Isn’t this a sad commentary? There are more of us than ever before, but we evidently haven’t raised our voices loud enough yet to be heard well. Think how mighty we are when we all pull together to get things done! We just need to speak a little louder, not to the point of shouting, just loud enough to be heard above the roar of the crowd!

  3. says

    Linda and Kathy, I think it really has to change, because in the end all that matters is money, and as you say Linda, we have the loot! Then poor young Rebecca, above, will have to put up with all the commercials that will flatter and suck up to us greyhairs (in our colorful Depends).

  4. says

    Interesting post and links,Lynne. Seems pretty foolish to ignore us Boomers, the ones who have come into our own and can finally afford to buy the things we want. Thanks for another thought-provoking post. Now,if you will excuse me, I have to go shopping :)

  5. says

    You’re spot on! I wrote about this last week – watching a couple of youngsters on msnbc talk about marketing to Boomers. Depends now comes in colors! YaHOO! I can’t wait to show my next first date. From this day forward, marketers ignore us at their peril. We’ve got loot, we shop, and we choose wisely. Well, not me personally, alas, but certainly my demographic. [sigh]

  6. says

    Hi Lynne,
    That ticks me off as well. We baby boomers need to ban together and stop age-discrimination now!!! Just last night I was looking at how to pitch an article to Self Magazine and I saw that they target 20-30 year olds!! I used to love reading Self but apparently I’m too old!! >: (

    Great topic!

  7. says

    Good points, Lynne! Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, it gets worse the older the person is. I’ve had store clerks turn to me and ask if “she” (my mom, who’s standing right there) would like “Paper or plastic?” or whatever. Talk about being invisible! This isn’t something many of us are willing to put up with, nor should we!

    • says

      Debbie, I’ve heard so many women our age complain about becoming invisible. I am curious about it. I haven’t had that feeling myself yet, and when it happens, it WILL NOT go over well!

  8. says

    When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense. We are mighty in number…it sounds like someone hasn’t done their home work. When they (eventually) take the time to calculate the numbers, surely they will adjust and realize there are lots of us and we have money to spend!

    • says

      Grace, I think part of it is that the retailers think if they can “get them hooked while they’re young” the youth dollar will pay off over the years, but that hasn’t proven to be true. Retailers, wise up!

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