At times, it can seem that online marketing is more geared toward younger audiences. Adults under 35 make a prime audience for many online ad campaigns. People between the ages of 18 to 35 are more likely to use technology like mobile devices and they are more likely to be engaged on social media. Recent studies have shown that this can be a double-edged sword. While online marketing is best for younger audiences, this also means that many older consumers feel left out.

As more and more advertising dollars are spent on online and social media ads, business owners risk alienating some of their older consumers. To illustrate the issue, think about a clothing retailer that is pushing promotions and ads through Instagram. There are certainly a lot of older consumers who use Instagram, but the platform is definitely skewed to younger audiences.

Imagine how older customer feel when they learned they missed a special offer or item because it was advertised on a platform they don't use. The platform creators would say this is a reason to encourage customers to use the platform, but that doesn't address this true issue. This is more than just a theoretical problem. For example, a new study by ICLP has found that customers over the age of 55 often feel overlooked, with 82 percent saying that retailers do not understand their needs.

The study also shows why business owners shouldn't just assume that their older customers will simply adapt to their new marketing tactics. Consumers who feel that a certain retailer doesn't understand or care about them will look for new places to shop. According to the ICLP study, 95 percent of consumers over 55 would consider abandoning their favourite retailers in favour of others.

"At a challenging time for the high street, many retailers are doubling down on their efforts to lure millennial shoppers into their stores and onto their homepages," said Jason De Winne, general manager at ICLP. "This sometimes comes at the expense of Baby Boomers, who tend to be more affluent, but require the same high level of attention that Millennials do to keep them loyal and devoted. It is this demographic which continues to support their local high streets, but are also increasingly tech savvy and spending online - and yet many brands are ignoring them."

This is the silver lining of this kind of research, that business owners can adjust their marketing tactics so that they target the consumers who feel overlooked. According to the report authors, loyalty programs are a good way engage consumers of all ages (not coincidentally, ICLP sell loyalty program services).

According to the research, nearly three out of four (73 percent) said they would purchase more if they received better rewards. About half (47 percent) want brands to acknowledge when things go wrong, apologize quickly and fix the problem swiftly. And seven out of 10 (70 percent) said they would spend more with their favorite retailer if the products they sold were more reliable and consistent.

The ICLP study was based on consumer surveys performed in the U.K. While this technically makes the results less meaningful for retailers in other parts of the world, consumers in the U.K. are comparable to audiences in the U.S. and other international audiences. So the percentages may have changed a little if the survey included U.S. consumers, but the overall point, that older consumers feel neglected, would probably remain the same.

Hopefully, business owners can use this information to craft better messages and more integrated marketing tactics that appeal to a broader base. This is something that consumers of all ages should support. Everyone gets older, and no one wants to be ignored by companies because of their age. So ensuring that marketing tactics are inclusive now, means they will be when we get older.

For more information on how to use online marketing tactics to reach audiences of every age, read this article on research into email marketing techniques.

Published on: Jan 30, 2017