The “Grey Market” – a Huge Opportunity for Business.

Hello all,

now, that I have done a lot of research on both topics of Smart Homes (click and click) and fear of technologies (click) I have found something that aroused my interest and unifies both in some point. My topic obviously progressed a lot, but where is the real significance for business? Here it comes: during my research elderly people where the biggest target group that was written about presenting the basic concepts and advantages of Smart Homes. Also, when I investigated the problems with technologies many people can get over with it was mostly about older people. Considering the fact that society is getting older, why not finding out more about product marketing specialized on old people as target group as this is still a niche in the market?

When did your grandma and grandpa complain about incomprehensible advertisement spots on TV the last time? Too many modern words and on top of that a lot of references to this, what is it called, “Internet”?  According to the EU, the senior citizens market will grow by 81% from 2005 to 2030 while the 18-59 year old market will only increase 7%. I this now a call for renovation in marketing strategies, business people?

Huge Potential still ignored

According to Mark Beasley, managing director of a marketing agency to specialise in mature audiences, many businesses unfortunately still ignore old people a growing portion of society. He points out the behavior of trying to keep their target groups as young as possible is wrong as it does not take into account the huge potential of seniors as buyers.

Old people are the ones with the most money affirms Patrick Dixon, Europe’s leading futurist. Yet despite all this, most businesses fail to meet the needs of older people (tips to reach old people better). It is not only about making the font size of ads bigger but also to accept seniors as loyal customer group that is worth being addressed directly.


Frédéric Serrière, head of Senior Strategic consultancy, observes companies’ tendency of mostly speaking to the youngest consumer possible to build up loyalty that can, if possible, be maintained for a long period of time.

He also assumes that many brands do not want to be associated with strictly senior products as it may possibly harm their cool image and hypothesizes that they often shrink from the extra work related to marketing for the elder such as training staff to explain in an easy way how devices work. Different approaches are essential to arouse old people’s interest in a product. Marketing puffery is wasted on them whereas especially functionality as well as safety in the handling of the product is what counts for them, as Maria Henke, assistant dean of the world’s largest school for gerontology.Mike Hayward, direct marketing manager of the British insurance company “Cornhill Direct” supports this opinion stating seniors are choosy consumers.

How to address Grandma and Grandpa properly

They are wiser, more rational and less influenced by fashion and trends. Moreover, old people alsohave time on their hands, clarifies Hayward. But on the other hand, mentions author Karen v. de Asis who does research on the “Grey Market”, this target group prefers to be addressed for its still active lifestyle rather than to or about its age. Already in 1994 a study revealed that about 30 percent of all people over age 55 say that “they avoid buying products that negatively stereotype older people.”

Another article argues that someways media have figured out about how to target the 50+ are only simplistic and misleading. Instead of discriminating old people by labeling them as “strange tribal groups”, marketing people who are mostly young people should learn to think outside their generation and treat them as equal citizens. What they want to have is a reative content in the advertising is understandable and appropriate. A lot of contemporary advertising uses language and imagery that bores or alienates an older audience. That can include crude language, humor, and images as well as personalities or models that an older audience does not recognize or relate to.

A proposed solution to this problem is offered by the same authors, Dick Stroud, in an interview where the expert recommends not to treat seniors as a single group and to differentiate marketing strategies by segments to enhance the wanted psychological effects of older people that lead to a buying decision. If targeted in the right way, seniors can become very loyal and generous customers, referred to Hayward.

Making Profits entering the “Grey Market”

So obviously there is a great opportunity in this developing and growing market when evaluating the prior experts’ statements. Although many businesses have not yet realized which potential there is in this market niche, other companies have already thought of new ways to address the elderly.

This Taco Bell ad from 2013 amazingly shows how humorously old people can be integrated in today’s marketing world. Showing that if you eat some tacos, go to a club and pull some pranks, age is just a number, Russell Steinberg embraces his opinion.If age is not very central in deWning who we think we are, then age-based marketing can and should appeal more strongly to values, traditions, and aspirations than to a focus on the human body as authors Don E. Bradley and Charles F. Longino figure out in their essay. With the right mixture of humor, while omitting closed-minded stereotypes and the provision of information old people can be successfully be integrated in marketing strategies or even be part of advertisements as other fancy projects have shown, as well. In these times, where seniors play a big role both as purchasing powers as well as representing the major par of our western society, they just cannot be ignored any longer.

And why should they actually? Aren’t these ads pretty funny?


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