Re-imagining marketing

By Caroline Ayling, Marketing Director

An awakening at the Silver Marketing Association Summit

  • Re-imagining the second half of life.
  • A cultural awakening AND the marketing world is trailing behind.
  • The new longevity is giving marketeers a wake-up call.
  • A new era of activism, and activist, that will re-define what “ageing” looks like.

These were the insightful and arresting comments from the keynote, Michael Clinton of ROAR Forward at last week’s Silver Marketing Association Summit in London. The buying potential of a huge and growing audience cannot be overlooked. Intelligent, empathetic and re-imagined marketing is needed to unlock this audience of  game-changing re-imagineers.

The action-packed, insight-filled and myth-busting day has reiterated what we have known and said about individuals in later life – see our Commercial Director Sue Fernando-Solini’s article in The Drum: ‘Age is Just  a Number’  from October 2022 for more on this!

The later life audience is not in fact one group, as one panellist in her late 60s highlighted – both she and her 98-year-old mother fall into the demographic box of being OVER 65 but they live very different lives and they have very different needs. As marketers it is our responsibility to understand these differences and not ignore the huge opportunity these audiences hold.


Our Marketing Director, Caroline Ayling, sat on the panel representing the Next Generation of Silvers (those Gen Xers and Millennials who will be turning 50 in the coming years.) She highlights a few things marketers should be doing to reach this audience:  

ATTENTION – The hot topic in marketing right now, especially for this cohort of busy people, potentially caring for children and parents, managing careers and dealing with the financial pressures of the cost-of-living crisis. Cutting through to your specific audience is key.

RELEVANT INTENSITY – Focus on addressing the pressures, fears and desires of the audience’s life. Be Sharp. Be Concise. Be Impactful. Now this does not mean shouting louder. It just means being more pertinent.

STORYTELLING – To grab attention you need to tell a compelling story. Make it real, make us feel something. And that doesn’t have to be a sad or shocking thing – humour has a huge roll to play in cutting through. So test your creative. Make sure you represent the audience you are targeting.

AUTHENTICITY – Create an authentic emotional connection. We value honesty and transparency. Bother to get to know us and understand us. We don’t like tropes and we see through lazy marketing. We feel over-looked for younger models. So surprise us. Delight us.

INTEGRATION – Finally, we are the ultimate hybrid media consumers. We are digitally savvy so think mobile first but don’t forget we still watch linear TV as well as embracing social and tech changes.


To distil the day into one blog post is impossible here are our top 5 themes we took away from the day:

1. Women lead the re-imagined way.

  • In the US, women over 50 have a net worth over $11 trillion in the USA (McKinsey 2020) and they will inherit an additional $12-$40 trillion from parents and husbands over the next decade. (The SHEconomy Project 2021)  
  • Women across all wealth brackets are set to inherit 70% of global wealth over the next two generations.
  • Women 50+ will spend 250% more than the general population. (The SHEconomy Project 2021)
  • You’d be daft to ignore the potential here!

2. Language Matters.

  • The word “elderly” was hotly discussed and to be honest writing this post I’m still not sure I have cracked the right language to use. My favoured phrase was describing people in their “third or fourth quarters”. Some leaned into to “older” others preferred to define by attitude than age.
  • Retirement is out. It’s about the next exciting chapter. So language such as living well and  living better really resonated.  
  • The one thing we know…Do not patronise or stereotype.

3. Direct reponse works but prepare to evolve.

  • Whilst many are digitally savvy, Ofcom reports that only 54% of over 75s have accessed the internet in the last 3 months so ensure your marketing addresses this.
  • As Matt Baraclough from creative agency ABF Pictures highlighted Response TV advertising is still very effective. Linear TV remains a key part of many campaigns targeting audiences in their third or fourth quarter. However, you cannot rest on your laurels. Prepare to evolve. Prepare to test.

4. Live Longer. Live Better.

  • There were a number of brands in attendance that are using tech to support lifestyle, security and safety concerns of an audience in later life. Interestingly many of these were not targeting the end user but the ‘next generation’ or ‘loved ones’ that do the purchasing, be that smplicare, EarGym, Easiphones etc.
  • Whilst the tech revolution provides huge opportunities for brands…In the words of one 82-year-old panellist, have patience with me, I’m a little slower than I used to be but I’m not stupid.

5. Sexy and I know it.

  • Both the ‘Ageism in fashion marketing’ panel and the ‘Love & Sex in later Life’ panel challenged the tropes of dowdy elderly people, perhaps at times shocking the summit audience with creative executions. (See above)
  • The point here is people in their later life are looking great and are sexually active. Don’t be surprised or shocked. Be aware of it. There is a huge opportunity here – and not just in face cream and sex toys!