What’s age got to do with it?

An interesting bit of research today (courtesy of comScore) highlighting that people over the age of 55 are more likely to visit a social networking site than a business, travel or technology site.

Interesting mainly in that it has been greeted with the surprise that betrays the stereotype that social networking, like so much else in our society, is the preserve of the young.  This stereotype of an older, out-of-touch consumer seems to be amazingly difficult to budge.

Why does the Marketing discipline cling to this palpably ageist view?

We’re obviously a youth-focussed society.  Ageing equals dying and that’s never a good thing. Youth equals attractiveness (which in turn equals sex) and that’s always a good thing.  Old equals disappointment and regret.  Young equals opportunity and potential.

Unfortunately I think it’s nothing more than a reflection of the discomfort we as a society have with the idea of a vibrant older population.  We just find it more comfortable to imagine that at a certain point people don’t buy new clothes, watch TV shows that don’t involve cooking or gardening, have sex or use the internet for anything other than genealogy research. I’m puzzled as to why this view prevails but it seems, sadly, to do so.

And so brands simply reflect the prevailing societal view.

I can think of so few examples of brands that embrace the idea of being grown-up.  I’m sure they’re there, but none leap (with youthful vim & vigour) to mind.

I’ve always loved this TVC for Orange. It’s a wonderful celebration of growing older.

What’s age got to do with it?

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