LONDON: Brands are missing out on huge potential opportunities if they insist on pigeonholing female Baby Boomers who control a huge amount of discretionary spending, according to a new study.

Elastic Generation: The Female Edit, a report into UK women aged between 53 and 72 from the J. Walter Thompson London Innovation Group, was based on a survey of 248 women, an online community and in-depth interviews.

This showed that 72% “don’t pay attention to advertising” while 91% wish advertisers would treat them like people and not stereotypes.

The economic significance becomes apparent when one considers earlier research, cited by the agency, which found 78% of women aged over 50 claimed to control the purchase decisions in their households, while over 50s generally account for half of all consumer spending in the UK.

Marketers need to be aware that this age group of “elastic women” enjoy life more now they are older (61%), say they are more outspoken than they used to be (68%) and are making more effort to do what they always dreamed of doing (57%).

Age is no longer a useful indicator of how older women are living and marketers should look beyond simple demographics and harness data to drive deeper, better, more personal engagement.

And any use of older faces in brand communications has to be authentic, with, importantly, customer touchpoints reflecting the same attitude.

These women are, said Marie Stafford, The European Director at the Innovation Group, “pillars of family, community and society and nothing they do is motivated by their age.

“So it’s a bitter irony that more than half feel that this makes them invisible to society and all brands want to talk to them about is their mortality and physical decline.”

One of the 12 trends identified in the report exemplifies this attitude: 73% of “elastic women” said they hate the way their generation is patronised when it comes to technology

And while 55% believed their generation’s needs are not considered when technology is designed, 78% expressed no desire to buy technology especially designed for older people.

It’s a salutary reminder that brands need to create technology that is simple and intuitive and which anyone can adopt and not just so-called digital natives.

Sourced from J Walter Thompson; additional content by WARC staff