Stereotype the over-50s at your peril

As society ages, the over-50s market in the UK is becoming increasingly important for advertisers.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 23.1 million people aged 50 and over in the UK in 2020, accounting for over a third of the total population.

This demographic also has significant purchasing power, with an estimated disposable income of £319 billion in 2020. However, despite the importance of this market, many advertisers still rely on stereotypes when it comes to media planning and buying.

Stereotypes are simplistic and often inaccurate beliefs about a group of people based on their age, gender, race, or other characteristics. When it comes to the over-50s market, advertisers often rely on stereotypes such as the idea that older people are technophobic, set in their ways, and only interested in traditional media such as TV and print.

These stereotypes can lead to ineffective advertising campaigns that fail to resonate with older audiences. For example, a study by the Advertising Association and MullenLowe Profero found that many older people feel patronized by advertising that relies on stereotypes, with 42% saying they find it annoying.

Furthermore, research by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) found that older people are more diverse than stereotypes suggest. The ILC's report found that older people have a wide range of interests and lifestyles, with some preferring traditional media such as TV and print, while others are avid users of digital media. The report also found that older people are not a homogeneous group and that age alone is not a good indicator of behaviour or attitudes.

Stereotype the over-50s at your peril

Given the diversity of the over-50s market, it is essential for brands to banish stereotypes when it comes to media planning and buying. Instead, they need to take a more nuanced approach that takes into account the individual needs and preferences of their target audience.

One way to do this is by using data-driven insights to understand the behaviour and attitudes of older audiences. For example, media agencies, like us, can use data to identify which media channels are most popular with older people and tailor our client's media plans accordingly.

Another approach is to involve older people in the advertising process. By working with older people to develop advertising campaigns, advertisers can ensure that their messages are more authentic and relevant to their target audience. This approach has been used successfully by brands such as Dove, which has used real women of different ages and body types in its advertising campaigns.

Banishing stereotypes is essential when it comes to media planning and buying for the over-50s. By taking a more nuanced approach and using data-driven insights, brands can develop more effective campaigns that resonate with this important demographic. By doing so, they can tap into the significant purchasing power of older people and build long-lasting relationships with this valuable audience.


  1. Office for National Statistics. (2020). Overview of the UK population: March 2020.

  2. Age UK. (2020). Later life in the United Kingdom.

  3. Advertising Association & MullenLowe Profero. (2017). Reimagining Ageing.

  4. International Longevity Centre UK. (2018). Understanding and segmenting older consumers.

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