In 1984, a series of commercials for the burger chain, Wendy's, created a sensation. It resulted in a catchphrase that became so popular it was used in the Democratic presidential debate that year: Walter Mondale asked Gary Hart, "Where's the beef?"
As you'll see in the video below, three elderly ladies were featured in the ad, with Clara Peller asking the now immortal question. The commercial was admittedly humorous and playful, but it certainly did not portray seniors in the best light.
Fast forward to today and we still experience ageism in advertising, as I wrote about in a previous blog post. I referenced an AARP article by AgeWave founder Ken Dychtwald. In the article, Dychtwald writes that "advertising is still far too often out of sync with the reality of today's older, more seasoned buyer." He quotes Chip Conley, founder of the Modern Elder Academy, who agrees: “Many ads are viewed by the older population as stereotypical and patronizing. Most advertisers receive a failing grade in their efforts to understand and relate to older adults.”
So now I want to ask marketers everywhere: When it comes to seniors, "Where's the beef?"
It's a sad fact that when marketers aren't making fun of seniors (which they often do), they are ignoring us. Big mistake.
A recent article on Entrepreneur.com cites data about the "silver economy," a phrase the European Parliament used in 2015, that means “the sum of all economic activity that serve the needs of people aged 50 and over, including the products and services they purchase directly and the further economic activity this spending generates.”
This data from The Brookings Institute should be reason enough for marketers to sit up and pay attention to the silver economy:
"...seniors are significant players in the economy: There are currently 750 million seniors in the world, and by 2030, there will be one billion. Seniors in the consumer class are expected to grow by as much as 66% and are the wealthiest age group in the world (alongside older professionals aged 45-64 years). The number of seniors grows by 3.2% every year compared to an overall population growth rate of 0.8%."
Entrepreneur.com laments, "65-plus is often a discarded demographic." As a 65-plus Boomer who retired from the marketing profession, I'm amazed and perturbed that leading brands and their agencies simply do not fathom that we Boomers are equivalent to a prime A1 cut of beef as a target demographic. Marketers, here's some news for you: WE BUY STUFF! Not only that, research shows the Boomer consumer is discerning, willing to consider different products, open to change and tech savvy. You and I know it. I wish marketers understood it too. Hey, marketers, the answer to the question, "Where's the beef?" is RIGHT HERE. It's not the young 'uns, it's the Boomer audience!