Marketers are in danger of neglecting a ‘new age’ of consumerism in one of Europe’s richest demographics – the over-50s.

So says a new report from Datamonitor, which identified a growing number of ‘Well Off Older Folk’, a group that goes by the laboured acronym of WOOFs.

The research estimates that the number of over-50s in Europe will rise from 127.4 million in 1997 to an estimated 147m in 2007 – an increase that represents “an exciting, yet often overlooked opportunity for the packaged goods industry,” according to Datamonitor analyst Daniel Bone.

Those aged 50 to 64 are one of the richest segments of society (though those over 65 are less well-off). Their average disposable income across Europe was €19,800 ($22,697; £13,991) last year, and more than €25,000 in the UK alone.

Moreover, those just turning 50 are from the generation that first grew up in a culture of mass consumerism, making their attitudes significantly different to those of their parents. As a result, they are expected to be more receptive to youth-oriented brands.

This trend is amplified by changes in the age at which people have children. “'Due to delays in the average age of first births and a growing tendency for young adults to remain in the parental home for longer, current and future cohorts of Seniors will be subject to growing influence from their offspring,” continued Bone.

“This will only further enhance their tendency to adopt consumption habits typically associated with youth culture.”

However, Bone also believes that over-50s are becoming disenchanted with advertising as it strives to become relevant to youth lifestyles.

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff