Advertisers are Shunning America’s Hottest Market: Baby Boomers

American’s over 50 have and spend the most money, are living longer and living “younger”, starting businesses and continuing to work. Yet, only 5% to 10% of ad dollars are targeted at them and most of those are drugs, dentures, diapers and “help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Advertisers are misfiring or even ignoring this mega demographic. Bloomberg says, “The world has never seen such a powerful market.”

A report released recently by AARP and published in the New York Times states,

“Older consumers, who hold trillions of dollars in spending power and make up a growing portion of the global population, would seem to be a prime target for advertisers.

Instead, the demographic is shunned and caricatured in marketing images, perpetuating unrealistic stereotypes and contributing to age discrimination.”

-New York Times

According to the Times, the AARP research shows it’s often the images advertisers use:

• More than a third of the United States population is older than 50, but the group turns up in only 15 percent of media images.
• More than 53 million people older than 50 are employed, making up a third of the American labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But only 13 percent of the
images reviewed by AARP showed older people working.
• Instead, they appeared at home more than in any other setting, often in the company of a partner or a medical professional. Younger people were more likely to be featured with co-
• Less than 5 percent of the images showed older generations handling technology, even though the Pew Research Center has found that 69 percent of people between 55 and 73 own a

“Martha Boudreau, AARP’s chief communications and marketing officer, said that many advertising agencies had never dealt with marketing campaigns targeting older consumers. Recent ads have described being 50 years old as “basically dead” and characterized older people as selfish and out of touch.

Many advertising professionals blame the ageism rampant in their own offices for contributing to the invisibility and distortion of older people in marketing campaigns.

At advertising, public relations and related companies in the United States, more than 81 percent of employees are younger than 55, according to government data.”
–New York Times

Advertisers should be having a very serious discussion with my agency because this is the market they are missing out on:

• Baby Boomers have 70% of the wealth and 70% of all disposable income (AARP)
• Boomers will inherit $15 Trillion dollars over the next 20 years in the U.S. (Nielson)
• Boomers lead in almost every Consumer Package Goods Category (Nielson)
• In automotive American’s 50+ outspend those under 50 by almost $20 Billion (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
• Boomers will spend $4.74 Trillion dollars over the next 20 years (AARP)
• Spending growth is almost twice that of people under 50 (Immersion Active)
Source: ProBoomer Boomer Buying Infographic

While traditional agencies are slow to catch up to the reality, new agencies are filling the gaps and some are led by people over 50. Who better than they to do it? BB2BB. Baby Boomers marketing to Baby Boomers.

Immersion Active is an agency targeting “Mature Markets” while AGEIST is made up of former agency people now over 50. AGEIST digitally publishes profiles of older people living large while offering numerous marketing, creative, and research services. is supporting people over 50 who choose not to pursue traditional retirement or can’t afford to.

It’s a demographic that is NOT living up to outdated expectations. Due to an increased lifespan as well as “healthspan” people in their fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond are being engaged and involved more like the stereotypical forty-something. More are working much longer out of choice or necessity and Boomers lead Millennials in the number of business startups in the U.S. by a two-to-one margin.

Therefore, there is a market. A vastly misunderstood and under (if not ill) served market. Put it all together, the money, the spending, the needs, the advertising vacuum and add some attention, understanding, respect, and businesses will reap the rewards for their brands and their bottom-line.