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Critical Mass

Designing for the Betamax Generation

Our youth-obsessed marketing world is rife with clownish stereotypes about older digital users. Befuddled grannies. Infuriated grandpas. Baby boomer parents incapable of correctly using chat shorthand - wtf?

To prove this outdated view is costing companies, Critical Mass conducted a survey of 500 over-50s, including 20 direct interviews. Their goal was to get a clearer picture of what this age group really want from digital, and what they don’t.

The research showed that 77% of those interviewed regularly shop online. They spend on average 58 minutes a day socialising and 7.4 hours a week gaming. 80% bank online and 14% stream content. Evidence they are living robust online lives.

When questioned 84% of over-65’s said they would miss the Internet if it was not part of their life. This group are digitally savvy and they’re wealthy.

Despite these facts over-50’s are the most ignored group in the history of marketing, according to Forbes. With only 10% of marketing budgets directed at them.

On the back of their research, Critical Mass has developed six lessons to design for what they term the 'Betamax Generation'

Key take outs:

  1. Be an Authority and Build Trust - Over 50’s value expertise. They seek brand support and they like to be educated about products (and entire industries). This age group crave dependability and security, so if you want them to engage them, make sure they know you have their best interests at heart.
  2. Give Them Reasons to Believe - Unlike their younger counterparts, being cool or the next big thing wasn't important to the over-50’s surveyed. Instead they're looking for substance. Show them how your services will make their lives easier, simpler or more fulfilling.
  3. Be (Truly) Mobile - Squashing a desktop site into a tiny device is not going to cut it. Make it simple. Make it clear.
  4. Don’t Bombard Them! - Relevant content will bring increased engagement, so don’t spam your over-50 customer. They’ve seen every form of junk mail. Be the hero that ends it once and for all.
  5. Be Human - Don’t just throw information at your over-50 customer - especially on digital. Help them get to the answer they need.
  6. Above all, Be Simple - This quote sums it up: “If it’s not simple or easy to use then I’ll piss off. I have little patience.” Well there's no arguing with that.

To find out more contact Caroline Sparkes at Critical Mass

About the author

Kara Melchers, Managing Editor, BITE

Kara has editorial control over BITE, Creativebrief’s daily insight into global marketing trends and the cultural movements driving them. She runs BITE INSPIRE sessions in the UK and US, for brands including Virgin Atlantic, A.G. BARR, British Gas and Pepsico. She also presents at our BITE LIVE events series and industry festivals in London and New York. Get in touch if you’re working on an interesting project

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