Just the other day a leading Auckland media director told us that the ad industry was now taking what they call the ‘mature market’ seriously.
But given its previous reluctance, why now? Well, he said without hesitation, they have considerable disposable income. Hmm… so we’re really, really interesting because, to put it bluntly, we’ve got the readies. Fact is Boomers have had for some time though neither media nor advertising took much notice, pre-occupied as they were with more trendy and youthful demographics. Well youthful demos do what they should, have a squiz and then flit off to something far more interesting than what the old folks watch.
This renewed interest in oldies isn’t purely led by demographic interests or otherwise. A major influence is rapidly changing communications technologies and their disruptive impacts – especially on TV as we know it.
In Britain broadcast watchdog Ofcom, reported that in every country surveyed in its international survey, broadband usage appears linked to a decline in conventional television viewing. On average around one-third of consumers with broadband access said they watched less television since going online. Conversely, internet access appears to have a positive effect on radio listening, offsetting a decline in hours spent listening to conventional broadcast radio. And, in other research between December 2003 and December 2005, Ofcom found that fewer young people were watching TV. At the other end of the spectrum, Boomers are turning off TV and TV ads according to a US survey. Given that our de-regulated model of television is in many ways a Market model and similar to American television, that research has implications here. The study was done by Harris Interactive in America last year and questioned just over 4,000 people. Its findings on Boomer's opinions on TV:
* 37% of Boomers are unhappy with TV programming.
* Over 80% claim they have a hard time finding TV shows that reflect their lives.
* Over 66% believe most TV programmes and advertising is aimed at people under 40.
But here, the New Zealand Television Broadcasters’ Council, representing the free to air broadcasters, maintains that people are watching television across all key age groups as much as ever. Here's what AGB Nielsen Research shows:
The trend is hardly upwards. Fact is people are now their own programmers and as much as anything the Net is helping change their preferences. It’s not only local admen who have woken up to the fact that TV’s most loyal customers are beginning to vacate their armchairs. It’s people like the founder and former chairman of the online job site Monster.com, Jeff Taylor. He sold up his interests in that venture, did some homework – and has just launched a search engine – cRANKy.com targeted specifically at babyboomers.
Taylor told CBS news that the research found that people 50 and over are confused about searching on the web," said Taylor. "It's hard for them to understand all the results."
Launched last month, cRANKy tries to simplify things by showing just four websites in the non-advertising section of each results page and making the sparser listings more relevant to its target audience. Google and Yahoo, by comparison, usually list at least 10 sites per results per page. As for the name, Taylor says he chose it because even at 46 he got cranky when lost in net searches.
So one way or another Boomers have managed to set another media agenda. When we logged in at cRANKy though, it wasn’t Market segmentation as much as our common humanity which showed through. Top searches were in order, sex, work from home, brain builders, jobs after retirement, body mass index, make new friends, reiki, elderhostel, arthritis, blogs.