Friday, 14 November 2014

Who Defines Our Cultural Attitudes?

If older people stay engaged with mainstream society, experience will become a valued commodity

Making Life Experience Count

The large cities where we live are meccas of people from all over the world, yet our cultural attitude towards ageing is still dictated by a 1950s Madison Avenue advertising culture that slowly removed people over 40 from its depiction of relevant consumers. And that is still where we sit. According to our billboards, online or print ads, videos and articles, we are all perpetually somewhere between 21 and 38.

Taking Back Mass Media

The only way for people over 40 to see ourselves addressed by our own culture, is to take back the street. Keep working. Do not go and stare at a sunset somewhere - unless it's on a holiday. If you're in marketing, stay engaged in your brands and change the copy and the design to reflect your own demographic somewhere in the market, as you get older. Stay engaged at your clubs, restaurants and open spaces until you become a visible force. The more people over 40 are reflected in the mass media and included as a demographic in marketing, the more the elderly will slowly be looked upon as a group to respect. Since we are a consumer culture, each segment has to stay engaged with the marketplace just to earn a psychological place within it.

Countering Ageism

Whereas Native Canadian, Asian and many other cultures celebrate the wisdom and intelligence of their elders, in the dominant North American culture our underlying tendency is to consider non-earning members of our society as irrelevant to the marketplace - and therefore irrelevant to us. The upshot of this is that boomers control a huge portion of current spending whether they are currently earning or not. According to Mass Mutual Financial Group, senior women age 50 and older control a net worth of $19 trillion and own more that three-fourths of the nation's financial wealth. You would never know this by the representation of senior women in either our mass media or targeted messaging in our brand-oriented culture. Perhaps the brands currently serving the over-40 consumer group are quietly enjoying the financial rewards somewhere on a beach... and keeping the secret to themselves.

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