Every Grey Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Branding and communication issues for senior citizens in 2003

Liesbeth Gerritsen
MARE Holland B.V.
Vanesse van Eeghen


Research Background

The Netherlands now has approximately 4.8 million inhabitants who have passed the 50-year mark and this number is expected to increase to approximately 6.7 million by 2020. Between now and 2020, the expenditures of people under fifty years are expected to grow by 1%, while the purchasing volume of those over fifty is expected to double. Still, more than 90% of all advertising campaigns focus on consumers under fifty years old (Tromp, 2000). The emphasis is placed on youth, functionality and beauty, despite the fact that the products involved are equally interesting for senior citizens. In commercial terms, relatively little is known about the senior target group. Although they are gradually being recognised as a marketing target group, albeit hesitantly, senior citizens are still not being approached as a (separate) full-fledged communication target group. Whether senior citizens react to brands, products and services in the same way as other target groups and whether they should be approached in the same way is questionable. Much of the communication regarding senior citizens still confirms the mistaken perception of senior citizens as inactive, needy of support, lonely, egocentric, immobile and cranky, despite scientific research findings that indicate that today's senior citizens are healthy and happy and (can) lead good, productive lives (Dykstra, 1990; De Jong-Gierveld, 1984; Van Tilburg, 1988).