Age is just a mindset

Recently I was asked to conduct a training session for some of our younger members in the office on the virtues of Radio. An entertaining session (if I do say so) which wasn’t just all about theory and visual demonstration, but was also littered with some of my experience built up over a 23+ year media career. Dropped some nuggets, shared some stories – got some laughs and had some interesting questions asked. All seemed to go well – well done Goughy! But there was one question that stuck in my mind from the session. It came from one of our young gurus who asked “Given that the radio audience has remained relatively flat over the past 5 years where do you see Talk Radio in the future?”

Really interesting question I thought, and  we tossed a couple of ideas around the room that led to a different angle of conversation.

The first thread of which reminded me of when I was a young nipper in this industry and got to work with one of the icons in Melbourne. He was probably mid-late 50’s, and as a group in our mid-20’s, we perceived his age-group as full of knowledge, but old. AM was their end of the dial, where they listened to opinion to be informed. They still read the papers (before the advent of that www thing), and they were generous consumers of TV. AM/Talk radio was made for them and once you hit a certain age, you didn’t dare switch the dial back to FM. To these guys, Talk Radio had a life.

The second thread was very different and leads me to pose the question: is the 50-64+ audience really as old as we perceive them? And are we at risk of discounting the value of this audience in our planning?

It made me think, as it did with all the under 30’s in the room.

Most of the broader campaigns we have worked on target an 18-54 audience or a 25-54 audience. Have we really targeted the full audience or have we given lip service to the 50+?

We’ve all worked on campaigns where clients have pulled AM Radio from the buy, because it skewed to old. “Yes we understand it performs against 25-54m, but they are really 50-64 and that doesn’t answer the brief”.  Fair point, however think about this – when NOVA launched 15 years ago, its primary target was the 18-39 year old. 15 years on and the top end of that audience is now mid-50’s. Based on our previous assumptions, have they now moved to being AM listeners?

The mindset of this audience today is very different to what it used to be. Where we thought of them a generation ago of being old, we do so now out our own peril. Many of the attendee’s in this session have parents in the 50-64 year old age bracket and not one of them thought of their parents as “OLD”.

We all agreed that just as they want to stay young by listening to NOVA, as well as GOLD or AW, they are also adaptors of technology. They do so because they don’t perceive themselves as being OLD – they are still young! They have adopted social media to stay in touch with family and friends, and they have also adopted the technology that their children have opened their eyes to. Let’s take a deeper look at how they consume media:

  • Newspaper consumption has dropped by 9% compared to 5 years ago whilst Mags are relatively flat at +2% – no real surprise here
  • FTA TV has increased by 2% whilst pay has jumped by 35% – again no real surprise here
  • Their internet use has increased by 10%
  • Interestingly, their radio consumption has increased by 14%

Would it surprise you to learn that their thirst to be early adopters has seen a dramatic shift? Since 2010/11, there has been a 40% change in 50-64 year olds who have to upgrade to the latest mobile phone, compared to increase of 3% amongst those aged 25-34!

They are 17x more likely to have surfed the net in the past 7 days compared to 25-34 at 5x. Their research online of products is similar in numbers to that of the 25-34’s and they are 18x more likely to purchase product online than the 25-34’s.

Furthermore their use of social networking has grown by 148% in the past 5 years compared to the 25-34’s at 78%. And their use of streamed music has grown by 148%. Streamed radio has doubled, and those that have streamed TV has increased by 113% in the past 5 years. All of this growth is substantially greater than the 25-34 year old audience that we would naturally attribute this kind of activity to.

More importantly, the older dudes out there not only earn more, but also consider themselves to be big spenders in greater numbers than the 25-34’s. They can afford to buy our clients products.

So I would argue that ‘OLD’ and all of the assumptions that go along with that term can no longer be affixed to a numerical bracket. In today’s planning function should we be considering mindsets over age sets?

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