You can’t drive 55 but you can sell to them

The TV upfront season is at hand and the news is that ad spending on television is alive and thriving. One of the big reasons for that is the participation of the 55+ demographic. This group watches a lot of television but perhaps more importantly they also have discretionary income and they actually spend it.

An article in the NY Times last Friday – really got my attention. The figures were eye opening. ”The most recent unemployment rate for those 20 to 24 years old is 14.2 percent; for those 25 to 34, it is 9.4 percent. The rate for people aged 55 to 64 is only 6.2 percent.”

Financially, the disparity is similar. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “…those people aged 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 had the highest median weekly earnings of any age segment in the United States: $844 and $860, respectively. Meanwhile, those 20 to 24 had weekly earnings of only $454. Those who are 25 to 34 earned $682.“

Mature consumers also seem to be spending on categories not traditionally associated with older people. NBC’s study of those people 55 to 64 showed that they spent more than the average consumer on categories like home improvement, large appliances, casual dining and cosmetics.

They have also become heavy spenders on electronics and digital devices. The study also showed that members of the 55-to-64 age group were just as likely as those ages 18 to 34 to have high-definition televisions, digital video recorders and broadband service.

The most interesting statistics I read were on audience age: The median age for audiences for every broadcast network has moved upward since 2006. NBC has moved to 50.1, from 48.5; ABC increased to 52.3, from 47.4. Fox, always the youngest network, aged to 45.4, from 41.5. CBS began at 53 and is now at a median age of 56.

“American Idol,” once considered the hot show for young people, finished its first season 10 years ago with a median age of 32.1. This season, its median age is 47.2. ABC’s biggest hit, “Dancing with the Stars” has a large complement of 50-plus viewers.

Patricia McDonough, senior vice president for insights, analysis and policy for Nielsen, said, “35 to 64 is becoming a relatively common target now.”

So the 55+ set is generally more employed, more financially stable and more prone to watching television and buying things. I guess they’re not getting older, they’re getting better. It’s not too long for me to join this group and somehow I am feeling a bit better about it.

Sort of.

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Marketing stuff, Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to You can’t drive 55 but you can sell to them

  1. Jim Fennell says:


    Most marketers focus on the 18-34 demographic and are missing missing the boat. The boomer generation will control a significant portion of this country’s wealth for years to come. Here’s a good read on the subject



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