The Power of Americans Age 50-plus

by | Feb 7, 2020 | Media

In television advertising, the most coveted audience segment to go after has traditionally been the 18-49 age group. But, being a member of the 50-plus age group myself, I contend that the older audience might be the better group to consider targeting.

I recently came across a report that was commissioned by AARP and produced by Oxford Economics called The Longevity Economy. This report focuses on how people over 50 are driving economic and social value in the United States. The original study was done in 2013 and updated in 2015. I believe the conclusions made by the study are even more valuable today.

First, some data about the 50-plus age group. In 2015, there were approximately 111 million people who were 50-plus in the United States, representing about 35% of the overall US population. This includes four different generations: The GI Generation (born 1901-1926), the Silent Generation (born 1927-1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), and Generation X (born 1965-1980), the oldest of whom turned 50 when this report was created.

The contributions to society of this age group are collectively known as the Longevity Economy.

In 2015, this Longevity Economy represented $7.6 trillion in economic activity, $5.6 trillion of which was in direct spending. During this same period, those under 50 spent $4.9 trillion. If you just consider Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, they represent 83% of the wealth of the US, and account for 34% of federal tax revenue and 41% of state and local tax revenue.

This is a group that actively participates in the economy and has the dollar power to influence it. In fact, certain categories of spending show a majority is spent by those 50-plus: healthcare, nondurable goods, durable goods, utilities, motor vehicles, financial services, and household goods, with an average total spend of 53%.

The 50-plus group is better educated than younger workers and they tend to be at the forefront of new business ventures in greater numbers. According to the report:

  • Approximately 19% of workers over 65 have a graduate degree, while only 13.5% of workers under 65 have one.
  • Since 2005, one in three businesses in the US was started by an entrepreneur age 50 or older.
  • There are twice as many 50-plus technology company founders than there are founders under the age of 25.

The Longevity Economy is also more apt to give back to the community. Retirees account for 42% of charitable donations and 45% of volunteer hours, although they make up only 31% of the population. 80% of people over 65 give to charities, while only 58% of those age 25-34 give. And the average total donation amount per year for those 65 years of age and over is $1,672.

In today’s marketplace, the over 50 crowd is a force to be reckoned with. Due to their large spending power, they are influencing market demand. The job market is adapting to maximize productivity for workers over 50. And trends in health care designed to increase quality of life for Americans 50-plus are emerging to allow them to age in place, with adoption of new technologies to improve their lives. And charities are recognizing and lauding the contributions of seniors.

There is no question that Americans over 50 are an important asset to our economy. And, as time goes by, we will see a larger percentage of Americans coming into this category. Now is the time to consider strategies to keep this audience segment at the forefront of our advertising plans because they will only become more important as the years go by.

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Paul McDonald
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