Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Advertising Ignorance

Lucky me. At 48, I still have a bit of time to be beloved by Madison Avenue.

The bulk of advertising is targeted to the 18-49 demographic. Conventional wisdom says after 50, people are set in their ways. They've picked their toothpaste, and by golly, nothing's going to change their minds. The flip side of that thinking is the belief that before 50, people can be converted to a particular brand for life.

The largest single demographic in the history of the world is well on its way to 50, if not there already. For boomers, cool is the watchword of a lifetime. This generation is well on its way to making old age as cool as youth was 30 years ago. How often have we heard that 50 is the new 40, or 60 is the new 50? As long as there's an appetite for cool, there's a twin appetite for new. And "new" may have little to do with brand loyalty.

Sure, youth is wasted on the young. The old rejoiner to that is that money is wasted on the old. But not anymore. Boomers consume like no other generation in history. Targeting 18-49ers and figuring you'll get the over-50 crowd, too, is short sighted.

With Gen Xers actively resisting Madison Avenue's traditional efforts along with the entire notion of brand loyalty, old school loses its wisdom.

The single largest trend in successful marketing has been targeted marketing. With so many media outlets, targeting is more viable now because there are so many more outlets. The closer the message gets to speaking to the individual, the more effective it becomes.

For more on the 18-49 phenomena, check out yesterday's L.A. Times', "Over 50 and Out of Favor.