What impact will a multi-generational workforce have on marketing strategy?

What impact will a multi-generational workforce have on marketing strategy?

We are entering an era where there could be as many as eight decades, or approximately five different generations, in the workforce.

Why should this have an impact on marketing in particular, and why does it make 50+ audiences an attractive audience? Well, for two reasons…

First is the social sharing that comes with being in the workforce. 

Generally, people in the workplace are more than happy to talk about their interests, passions and purchases on a regular basis, so providing all generations with a set of personal recommendations and reviews. Also, with many businesses now returning to the office, the workforce will also be doing some form of commute, creating an opportunity for brands to communicate with them via radio, social channels, content, podcasts and newspapers. 

For the older generations who are in, or returning to the workforce, this surely makes them an attractive proposition for marketeers and one that has been overlooked or misrepresented in the past.

In addition, research by Anything But Grey found that a third of those over 50 said they are more likely to seek out new experiences since turning 50, and 35% say their spending on products and services is likely to increase in the future. Also, almost half say their income and disposable wealth have risen over the past five years.

But the second reason is not so much about the commercial opportunity for marketeers, but the creative work itself. 

The average age of people in the creative industries is 36, much lower than the national workforce average (42), meaning that very rarely are older cohorts involved in the creation and execution of campaigns. 

Whilst the industry has quite rightly recognised the need for specialist offerings/services to cater to youth markets, there has been little appetite for doing the same for older people.

And for those of us over 50 in the industry, not only do we come with a breadth of experience simply by being part of this audience – the lived experience – we also come with a depth of experience in the industry. Brains trained hard to unpick briefs and find the path least trodden, with a highly developed gut instinct on what good should be. This phenomenon was recently commented on in the FT, which described it as ROE, return on experience, “a newish way of framing the advantages of employing older workers that really captures what they can offer.”

This lack of representation for the over 50s in the industry could go some way to explain why less than 12% of marketing features anyone over the age of 50…..and if they do, they play one of two roles; happily retired or health-compromised – everything that Amazon’s superb Christmas ad this year avoided.

So, not only will creative work need to change to accommodate an over-50s audience that is open to be communicated to, but it should involve people in the industry best able to reflect that audience as authentically as possible.

Lead image credit: iStock/SolStock

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