Brazil is getting older! This is what more recent studies show, such as the 2022 Census, from IBGE: people over 60 years old – officially elderly – have reached the 32 million mark and represent 16% of the country’s population. This is an increase of 56% compared to 2010, when elderly people numbered 20 million people. On the other hand, the number of children up to 14 years old fell from 45 to 40 million in relation to 2010, suffering a drop of 12.6%. Among the reasons for the aging of the population are advances in the area of health, which provides a better quality of life, through nutrition, physical activities, medications and preventive exams.
In practice, in my opinion, the data shows that there is an upward curve in the aging of the Brazilian population: we are increasingly older, therefore increasingly younger. In this context, is the advertising market prepared to dialogue with the elderly population? And more than that, will we, consumers, be well represented by advertising when we are over 60?
The data points to a problem still ignored by the advertising industry: the lack of generational diversity in their campaigns. From my point of view, being young has become a characteristic worshiped not only by society over the years, but mainly by the market, which does not admit aging, unless it is possible to “get old while staying young”.
This means that, currently, an elderly person only appears in advertising if they have young characteristics: body, skin, hair, clothes, habits. Of course, it is possible to grow old and maintain your habits – from going to the bar to dyeing your hair –, having plastic surgery and aesthetic procedures when desired, etc. However, we need, as communication and media professionals, to look beyond the obvious and understand that age does change people, inside and out.
And, just like any other audience, those 60+ will only connect with a brand and buy its products if they identify with what they are consuming. To do this, companies need to rethink their marketing and find a solution to put an end to stereotypical campaigns, which target both elderly people who are not aging and those who are “old-fashioned grandmas and grandpas”.
Data in the fight against ageism
Yes, gone are the days when the figure of the elderly was well represented by old, quiet people, sitting at home watching TV, cooking for their grandchildren, in short, living a peaceful life. But this caricature, which lasted for decades, no longer represents this generation if we look again at the 2022 Census data. More than 9 million elderly people practice some physical activity in Brazil and almost 70% had friends over at home in the month before the survey. These are just two pieces of information, but they can bring great insights. A “boring” routine no longer sells. Just like any other group, those aged 60+ are looking for something that connects with their lifestyle, portraying their real experiences – and these include travel, going out to bars and restaurants, as well as theaters, museums and others.
Do you want another proof? According to the Tsunami Prateado survey, carried out by the consultancy Hype50+, the elderly is the age group that most consumes brands’ premium product lines, representing almost 20% of Brazilian consumption and generating around R$1.6 trillion per year, with growing demand. People aged 60+ also look for quality and innovation when making their purchases and have become major consumer influencers in their homes and social cycles – after all, word of mouth still has great strength.
Do you realize that there is a fine line between the two stereotypes, of old people being very old and those who don’t want to grow old? It’s quite a challenge to get it right, isn’t it?
Etarismo na era digital
In my opinion, the digital habits of the 60+ population are too relevant to be ignored by the advertising industry. According to the 2023 Continuous PNAD, carried out by IBGE, 62.1% of the population over 60 years of age access the internet regularly, and the tendency is for this percentage to increase each year – there is no way to leave this portion of consumers aside.
These numbers reinforce that brands need to have a digital presence through campaigns targeted at this audience. It is essential to understand that there are different profiles of old people, with different motivations, habits and expectations about the future – just like for young people. It is up to companies to participate in the acculturation of the lives of the older population, both physically and digitally.
In short, to solve the lack of generational diversity in advertising, brands need to effectively understand the pains and desires of the 60+ population. We must bear in mind that the fight against ageism needs to be guided by a sense of belonging, ensuring that this public is integrated with other generations. And to the younger ones, I say with certainty: you will also grow old. This is not a threat, but an observation. Aging is no longer synonymous with disability and younger professionals also need to understand this to transform the market.
*Anna AndradeHead of Marketing and Communications at Retargetly