A new generation of greys, living longer, feeling healthier and living more productive lives, requires a new way of thinking. Sociologists describe the need for ‘joined up thinking’ a new inclusive perspective that recognises the value and significance of these years. This is a watershed generation. They were the first teenagers, the first to experience mass consumption of consumer goods, the first (and perhaps last generation) to fully benefit from the provision of the Welfare State.

We have been researching this market for a number of years and developed the understanding and empathy required to explore their particular needs as consumers.

Through our Seniors research we aim to inform our clients about how best to relate to and sell to this sector.

We use a variety of methodologies and techniques including depth interviews with couples and singles, extended group discussions and extensive use of source materials including video diaries, photo diaries and self scripts.

Here are some of the thoughts and insights that have emerged so far from our work with senior market consumers. Three broad themes emerge:
  • enviable lifestyles: enjoying what we would describe as 'the long vacation'
  • rational relationship with brands
  • receptivity to functional benefits in communication media.
Welcome to the long vacation
Respondents talk about the freedom to do what they want, when they want, and they voice the belief that it doesn't matter what people think of you - you should just go ahead and be yourself. For the first time in their lives they are focusing on their own needs, rather than meeting the demands of their family or their work.
When you examine this approach to pleasure it becomes clear that enjoying themselves involves consultancy work; charity work; hobbies; DIY; education and knowledge; health and fitness activities; and holidays. The grey lifestage seems to be typified by a will to 'take it all in' before it is too late.

'Rational' relationships with brands
Grey consumers have a high regard for independent thinking and self determination and this leads them to seek out rational benefits and to be relatively more suspicious of the purely emotional sell. Brand relationships are required to have a functional basis.

Functional response to communicate media
'Greys' can become impatient or irritated with communication styles or ads that are 'unnecessarily' obscure, complex and demanding of an effort to decode. They have a far weaker desire to play out their identity through using brands as conspicuous markers reflecting a lesser need to have their social status endorsed by others.
In short, the grey generation today is not trained in de-coding advertising, they are less frequently targeted by advertising and they have a sufficient sense of self to build identity around what they do, not how they seem.

Our findings suggest that particular styles of communication need to be adopted to target Grey consumers. We believe the baby boomer grey generation is a 'child in time', sandwiched between the austerity of their parent's generation and the consumerism of their children.

For more information on Seniors contact:
Joel Conway +44 (0) 207 837 7700
Joel.Conway@rdsiresearch.com or
Hannah Davidson +44 (0) 113 243 7949
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