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.