The biggest, wealthiest and most ignored consumer group


Trivia question: Which age group spends the most online?

If you answered millennials (like me) you're wrong.

The over 50s spend more online in categories such as fashion, than the under 50s. 

Another crazy fact is by 2020 most adult consumers will be over 50 years old and they’ll have the highest level of disposable income out of any age group. Think about it – they’ll be the biggest and wealthiest consumer group out there.

But for some crazy reason the over 50s are largely ignored by marketers, product developers and business owners.

Sharyn Lowe is a top expert when it comes to understanding and marketing to the over 50s. Her recently released e-book, The Power Pack, is chock full of research and insights about this powerful consumer group and unlike many e-books is well worth downloading and reading.


We caught up to discuss why the over 50s (or as Sharyn calls them “Q3s”) are ignored, to debunk some buying behaviour myths and provide insight into how brands can capitalise on this hugely valuable market.

1.    Why do you think most brands and marketers are still so infatuated and loved up with 18-35 year olds, rather than the over 50s?

Our attraction to youth is psychological (as images of older people remind us of our fear of death), social (as ageism is seen in all sectors of the population), and systemic (as marketing teams are very young themselves). It really goes against the grain to target the over 50s, but if our tasks as marketers is to increase sales, we need to recognise our own ageism and fight against it. Even I find myself placing older people in stereotypes and I need to remind myself of this quite often.  

2.    But are Q3s buying online? The Q3s I know are skeptical about online shopping. So, if a business is online only, should they still consider targeting this group?

It’s a common misconception that Q3s don’t like online shopping, but in fact they spend more online in categories such as fashion, than the under 50s. Marketers need to consider that Q3s shop differently than Q2s online. They like lots of information and love to see products displayed and used with video. This is also a group that still responds to email marketing so that needs to be placed in your strategy.

3. While most e-books are little more than a 200 word PDF brochure, The Power Pack is incredibly informative and rich with insights. To summarise some of the information in the book, what are three key considerations for marketing to the over 50s?

1.    Bring in the experts: You need more Q3s on your team because it’s very difficult to empathise with an older demographic. It’s easy to empathise with people younger than yourself because you too have been young. But you can only imagine what it’s like to be older – you have no experience of this state. So you need 50, 60 and 70 year olds on your team if you want to take this market seriously.

2. Think about the details: For instance, ensure packaging is done correctly. Q3s love information but often can’t read the benefits of your products due to small typefaces used on packaging. From small type on restaurant menus to tiny type on cosmetics.

3. Service mentality: Ensure Q3s are greeted as your most important customers. They live in a world where they feel invisible, so ensure they know how much you value them. 

4.     What are some Australian brands that are marketing to over 50s really well?

Blue Illusion is an excellent example of a fashion label that has hit the right chord with the Q3s. This quiet achiever of the fashion retail world has grown into a huge business very quickly due to the cut, fashionability and marketing of their products.

Apple is an excellent example of a retail business with a hotel concierge service ethic and Q3s respond in droves. Mecca Cosmetica does a good job in the beauty segment although having more Q3s on staff would assist (it will be interesting to see how founder Jo Horgan adapts the brand as she moves into her Q3 years). 

5. So if the over 50s market is where the money is, do you have any business ideas for entrepreneurs to explore?

I’ve given away many ideas in the e-book that I hope people will progress such as adding Mind Gyms to fitness centres, underwear and fitness ranges for the Q3 body and an Uber Seniors to safety and calmly collect grandparents and great-grandparents.  There’s many more in the e-book.


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