Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Marketing is forgetting older millennials

More than 90% of people aged 40+ cannot recall a brand using someone their age in marketing, and almost a third cannot remember a single recently promoted brand or product, new research has found.

The survey, which aimed to reveal how marketing to the over 50s is likely to change as millennials begin to hit that age milestone, uncovered a bigger age blind spot in UK marketing than anyone expected.

Over-50s account for 47% of all consumer expenditure (£602 billion), but shockingly are represented in a mere 12% of all marketing content nationwide[1]. This has resulted in high levels of disengagement among the 50+ age bracket, with more than three quarters (77%) of UK over-50s saying they feel brands don’t represent their needs in marketing.

But for older millennials and younger GenXers, aged 40-49, the numbers are no better – 77% feel brands do not represent their needs. What’s more, 29% were unable to name a single recently advertised brand or product, rising to 33% for those aged 50-59 and 48% for those aged 60-69.

Anything But Grey’s new report exposes the wasted potential for meaningful engagement among these age groups. It reveals an audience with increasing disposable income, willing to try new experiences and consider major purchases in the next 12 months. However, these audiences are ignored by most brands.

A significant 40% of those aged over 50 say their wealth has increased compared to five years ago, including 43% of those over 70. Those aged 40-49 were more likely to say their wealth has increased, and 10% say their wealth has increased by more than £2,000 per month – suggesting an affluent cohort approaching the age of 50.

Over a third (37%) of those aged 50-59 say they are more likely to try new experiences since hitting 50. When it comes to the over-50s’ spending plans in the next 12 months, 41% said they will go on a holiday abroad, 20% will spend on electronics or gadgets, and 15% plan to buy a car.

While the neglect of these older age groups in brand marketing makes no commercial sense, age representation data from the marketing and advertising industry offers a possible explanation. Data from the 2023 All in Census, which tracks employment representation in the UK creative industries, indicates a heavy skew towards younger employees – with an average age of just 36, and 12% of those over 55 reporting feeling discriminated against because of age.

Sarah Firth, Co-Founder of Anything But Grey, a creative communications consultancy that speaks for the over 50s, said: “For too long brands have ignored the real needs of the over-50s and have made broad assumptions over their attitudes and behaviours. Our latest research clearly shows brands are losing older Millennials and younger GenXers too – a demographic who are marketing wired, digitally savvy, and hitting their peak earning potential.  

Nicola Roberts, Co-founder of Anything But Grey added:

“Brands are missing out on a major opportunity to reach and even own this market, especially as many in this age-group are open to trying new things and have a greater disposable income, despite the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.”

Download the report here: