Chronological age tells us very little about a person

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When you think of older people what images come to mind? Compare that with what you see in the media.

Many people argue that advertisers depict this section of the population in a less than flattering manner. In fact, there have been suggestions that the elderly do not regularly appear in advertisements or TV series. Or if they do, it’s in a particular stereotype.

Some claim that the older market segment is shunned by advertisers. One reason may be that they believe there’s less money spent by older people.

No Stereotyping

Older people seem to be often thought of as one homogeneous group. Today’s older population, however, is different. They’re not like their grandparents.

Marketers take note! They’re a diverse group that doesn’t like to be stereotyped.

They’re said to be fitter and healthier than past generations, which means they’re going to be around longer.

Many keep working—full time, part time or casual work. There’s also the rise of those older entrepreneurs. The average age of Australian entrepreneurs is 57 years.

In recent years there has been a resurgence in caravanning. One report noted that in 2016 caravan registrations had increased in the previous 12 months by 4.9% to 554,344.

Doing an Australian ‘lap of the map’ with a caravan is on the bucket list for many. But not all older caravanners or ‘grey nomads’ travel for the same reason.

Travelling for a purpose is enticing for some caravanners or ‘grey nomads’. Some find volunteering opportunities around Australia, such as at the innovative Kimba Grey Nomads program in South Australia. Currently one of the nominees for Australia’s ‘Best Grey Nomad Volunteer Program’, it offers free camping for caravaners who volunteer their time in the community.

Other travellers have found work opportunities during their travels.

In 2017, 60% of Australian cruisers were aged 60 plus. According to several travel agents I know, many older travellers like ‘different cruises’ that may explore the more unusual parts of the world.

There is no one-size that fits all

They are also big users of technology and a big user of Facebook, for example, as a means of communicating.

Pets, travel, health, leisure, vitamins and cars—are some of the products high on retirees’ spending lists. Have marketers noticed?

It’s refreshing to note that SBS commissioned RMIT University to explore how the over-55’s feel about their treatment by businesses, advertisers and to challenge the stereotypes of older people. You can read more here.

‘Chronological age tells us very little’, notes one commentator, ‘age is a fluid concept, with chronological age a poor predictor of attitudes, interests and behaviour’. That needs to be recognised.

Jill Weeks is the author of 21 Ways To Retire and co-author of Where To Retire In Australia and Retire Bizzi. She is a regular contributor to ABC radio. For more, go to:


Category: Ageing, Attitude, Lifestyle

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