How old you are is a chronological fact.  However, very few people act their chronological age.

So why do marketers target to chronological age?

True, all the media information we get is based on chronological age, but that doesn’t mean the message has to be designed to what we think people do at that chronological age.

For years, we have told clients we need to target messages to the perceived age of their customers.  We use a handy formula of: divide the chronological age by 2 and then add 12.  So, if the target audience is about 50, show people in your advertising that are (25+12) about 37.  That’s how old a 50 year old thinks they are and acts.  It takes quite a while for the brain to catch up to the aging body.

This can be very important when marketing to older consumers.  If you want 70 year olds, don’t show a white haired person in a rocking chair.  Show some one who is about (35 + 12) 47, active, healthy and enjoying your product.  I am told many 70 year olds have personal trainers to fight the effects of aging.  They are also travelling the world taking walking tours it obscure locations – not the cliched trips to London, Paris or Rome.   And certainly not many are sitting in rocking chairs.

Act your age! just doesn’t cut it.

We all buy products, not for who we are, but who we want to be or think we are.  This holds true for many products. I see more motorcycle riders who are seniors these days than males in their 20s.  Bombardier even developed their 3 wheel CanAm Spyders to provide greater stability and easier handling for older riders.  It gives people who are 60+ a ride that confirms their perception that they are much younger than their chronological years.

And recommending a product as being “perfect for 70 year olds” means that no 70 year old in their right mind would buy it.

And if you want proof that we buy for who we think we are, just look at the sales of golf clubs.  People think they need the latest and greatest club technology, but less than 5% break par!

It is a solid strategy in marketing to sell to who the customer thinks they are or wants to be.  It is the core for all luxury branding.  We understand that people want to be glamourous and trendy, even if they are not.  We need to make similar adjustments when it comes to age.

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