Greying of the country

Sorry, but you aren't getting any younger. The good news is no one else is either so you'll have lots of company. Canada is experiencing an explosion among its older demographics that will significantly impact a variety of marketers. According to government statistics, in 2001 one in eight Canadians were aged 65 and over. By 2026 one in five will have reached 65.

Sorry, but you aren’t getting any younger. The good news is no one else is either so you’ll have lots of company. Canada is experiencing an explosion among its older demographics that will significantly impact a variety of marketers. According to government statistics, in 2001 one in eight Canadians were aged 65 and over. By 2026 one in five will have reached 65.

Tony Miller, CD at Toronto-based Sharpe Blackmore EURO RSCG describes some of the changes. ‘You’ll see more automobiles being marketed to that demographic, more pharmaceuticals being advertised, and you’ll see banks talking to people in a different way.’

One marketer already reacting is Shoppers Drug Mart, which is currently revamping its stores in a couple of ways designed to increase convenience and product offerings that it says will attract older consumers. For example, says Arthur Konviser, SVP, corporate affairs for the Toronto-based drug store chain, pricier, more upscale cosmetics are being introduced. ‘We’re looking for the upper income consumer and that’s the older consumer,’ he says.

SURVEY SAYS!

Miller says cultural bias is largely why consumers have yet to see a marketing push targeting older Canadians as vigorously as younger ones. ‘It’s also partly the agencies’ fault. Ad agencies want to be cool. It’s more fun to do ads for 18-year-olds than it is for 75-year-olds. But it’s not to say you can’t do something really award winning for an older audience. It’s going to take a brave, big company or two – and I don’t mean agencies – to really embrace this before others fall into step.’

However, if you’re already looking at this demo for your bread and butter, Miller advises that you stay away from the stereotypes. ‘We all recognize the clichéd ways in which agencies talk to older people – the cool, old guy hanging 10 off a surfboard, which you still see on TV. That may not reflect any sort of reality other than the 23-year-old copywriters vision of what he thinks an old person is.

‘I don’t know if [the answer] is research in the sense of ‘let’s focus group this,’ but certainly agencies [need to] talk to these people to see what resonates with them.’