Everywhere you look, there's advice on how to market to Millennials. From how-to pieces by social media stars to articles claiming the key to attracting this generation is everything from authenticity to content marketing, there's no shortage of opinions on how businesses should target young people.

But recently, the Ad Contrarian blog offered one tip in regard to Millennials you don't hear very often: Pay way less attention to them.

In a no-holds-barred rant, blogger and author Bob Hoffman calls out his own industry for its completely irrational obsession with Millennials--and its inexcusable neglect of consumers over 50.

"According to a September report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor, a majority of consumer spending (51 percent) is now done by people over 50. These people are the target for 10 percent of marketing activity," he notes. Spending is similarly tilted toward the young, with marketers spending five times as much targeting Millennials as any other generation. These startling facts launch Hoffman's takedown of the fact-phobic marketing industry.

Age discrimination, pure and simple

What's Hoffman's explanation for the disproportionate amount of attention advertisers pay to the young? In short: inexcusable age discrimination.

Pulling absolutely no punches, he writes: "There is almost no one over 50 left in the advertising business. They have been the target of demographic cleansing--and eliminated from agencies. The result is a generation of advertising people with enormous self-regard and no hint as to the true nature of 'the consumer' they are all so sure they know everything about. The ugly truth is that the marketing and advertising industries hate older people. We like the excitement of youth, not the boredom of middle age and the frailties of old age. And so we have concocted all kinds of bull***t for ignoring them."

This bias for the glamour of youth clearly enrages Hoffman, but besides being simply annoying, it's also terrible business in his opinion. Ignoring the facts when it comes to the wishes (and spending) of the over-50s, he says, "is marketing by selfie stick--narcissism disguised as strategy." The result is that myopic, Millennial-obsessed marketers are leaving lots of money on the table.

Marketers, defend yourselves! Is the industry really as hostile to older people as Hoffman claims?

Published on: Dec 28, 2015
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