Before we start, a note on terminology: Because ‘the middle aged’ is such a dull collective name, I’ve re-christened this demographic The Tufty Club. If you’re not old enough to remember Tufty the Road Safety Squirrel from the schools campaign of the 1960s and 70s, I urge you to google him. And although ‘millennials’ is a more commonly used term, I prefer TinderTots. I feel it’s a more fitting title for a generation for whom a romantic gesture means swiping left.
As a culture, we’re obsessed with youth.
Not just for the obvious aesthetic appeal – those unfurrowed brows and lovely lithe bodies. The media seems consumed with every single aspect of the TinderTot experience – from their faddy pastimes (Napkin Aerobics or Molecular Cocktail Making, anyone?) to their derivative music, incessant festival-going and ironic fashion statements.
Which is all fair enough. TinderTots are entertaining, they’re lively, they’re upbeat and, hey, they’re the future.
But they’re also skint.
Most are still living with their folks, scraping together deposits – or being fleeced for the chance to live in shoeboxes in Zone 6. So it’s odd that, while the over-50s own three-quarters of all financial assets, companies still spend 95% of their marketing and advertising budgets on the under-50s. Possibly it’s because they don’t see the 40- and 50-somethings as an exciting group to sell to.
So, in a spirit of (fairly unscientific) enquiry, I decided to poll all the Tufty Club members I know – which pretty much makes up my entire social circle. Over nice bottles of red in proper pubs, I quizzed them on their likes and dislikes, passions and bugbears around modern branding.
Certain themes quickly emerged.
Tufties buy less, but better quality in pretty much everything. With all the responsibilities of middle years, shopping isn’t a key leisure pursuit, so online is king. If something genuinely improves their well being, they’re all ears. They prize efficiency and reliability over innovation. They couldn’t care less what’s trending or what the TinderTots think fashion-wise (tech is a slightly different matter).
And, almost without exception, Tufties hate social media based marketing. In fact, the only thing that makes them more annoyed than being chased around their Facebook page by targeted banners, is being lied to. Whether that’s about quality of goods, ethics of the company or reliability of service. Cut the bull, was the resounding plea.
For brevity (and because I’ve still got to cook dinner, oversee some homework and put a wash on), I’ve distilled my findings down to some key commandments, and quoted my Tufty Club chums verbatim.
Top Truths For Branding For The Over 40s
1. Passion sells
“Evans Cycles is great because the staff are all cycle nuts and really know their stuff.”
“Rude Health gives the impression that they’re actually passionate about the products, not just the profits. I used to feel the same way about Innocent and Green & Blacks – before both sold out.”
2. Seamless UX is king
“Amazon 1-click ordering really works – it’s just the simplest way to buy most things. I genuinely can’t face having to register with a new company before purchasing.”
“I’m always drawn to retailers with excellent websites for speed and lack of hassle. So Amazon, John Lewis, M&S and other bog-standard sites will win over more adventurous, niche ones.”
3. They’ll pay for quality but they’re savvy
“In my 20s I used to buy seriously expensive face creams from YSL and Chanel, but I’m strictly No 7 now – because I’ve decided they’re just as good.”
“I always wait for the sales as they come around so quick. I rarely buy at full prices anymore, even for brands I love.”
4. They love the high street in theory…
“I buy from the market, local butcher or fish monger. I deliberately support the smaller companies and local firms. I try hard not to give my money to large corporations.”
5. …but want everything delivered
“I’m buying more and more stuff from Amazon. But I have Prime, which gives free next day delivery. Their guys are literally wearing a path to my front door.”
“I’m looking forward to cannabis drone deliveries – very good for rheumatism, I hear. (The cannabis, not the drones.)”