Tech and media ignore huge market of elders

What Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Understand About Old People

by Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times, Sept. 6, 2023

Silicon Valley isn’t just consumed by youth; often, it’s blinded…

After all, older people are the future of business: According to a recent analysis by AARP, people over 50 now account for more than half of the world’s consumer spending, and their share is projected to grow to 60 percent by 2050…

The tech industry’s hostility to aging “continues to violate common sense,” Joseph Coughlin, the director of M.I.T.’s AgeLab, told me. His lab conducts research on how an aging population is changing business. He said that companies in the auto industry, financial services, retail and other sectors are coming around to the emerging opportunities of the “longevity economy,” the 1.6 billion people around the world who will be 65 or older by the year 2050…

Yet the trillion-dollar tech industry that imagines itself inventing the future is stuck in the past, its views of older customers, older employees and how to best serve them hopelessly misaligned with facts, business logic and demographic destiny. “The market is aging. The market is numerous. The market has got more money than the people they have been building products for,” Coughlin said. “And yet they continue to ignore them.”…[end quote]

The rest of the article has many examples of the ways tech could potentially improve the lives of seniors while making huge profits.

The article doesn’t mention the media but the same applies. Movies and TV are aimed at youth markets. One series that DH and I enjoyed, “Longmire,” was cancelled because ratings showed that the main audience was over 50 while the network wanted to attract the age 15 - 35 demographic.

It simply doesn’t make sense, from a business standpoint, to ignore a large market niche with huge spending power.

Another example is the garment industry. The main clothing designers and retailers largely ignore the 40% of obese Americans. How does that make sense?

Back to the media…

I subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime. I am so bored by American programming which is so shallow and repetitive. I have been watching Korean programs almost exclusively due to their high-quality scripts, character development and acting. I especially like the format of the series with a story that has a clear beginning, middle and end. These are typically 12 - 20 hour long episodes and the stories can be quite complex.

Of course, there are a lot of silly Korean romance programs but there are also some with adult themes. (By “adult,” I mean appealing to intelligent, mature people. These programs avoid any hint of sexual activity on screen.) I prefer to watch in Korean with subtitles since the Korean spoken language has interesting inflections that aren’t caught by dubbed readers.

I recommend:
“Jejoongwon,” the true story of the first hospital of Western medicine in Korea. The series covers from 1895 (when Korea was still a traditional society) to 1910 (when the Japanese took over Korea).

“Shark,” an award-winning story of revenge with its roots in the painful history of the partition between North and South Korea. A mystery full of twists and surprises.

" Through the Darkness," the true story of the establishment of Korea’s first crime profiler.

“Navillera,” a heartwarming story of a 70 year old retired postman who fulfills his lifelong dream of learning ballet.

“Damo,” a fictional police procedural set in Korea’s medieval period.



Thank you, and those look great!

d fb

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@flyerboys these programs really are great. Be prepared to binge-watch since the episodes tend to end on cliff-hangers.


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I just look in the mirror! :cowboy_hat_face:

The Captain

I recently made that assertion here and was told it couldn’t possibly be true, because, something. Millennials rule! And they’re big! And something. I should have told that poster to go take a flying Leap.

Wealth doesn’t happen in your 20’s, or even in aggregate in your 30’s. I’m spending more, per year, than I probably did in the entire decade of my 20’s, and while that’s probably not perfectly typical I’ll wager it’s not that unusual either.

Marketing has been driven by the (partly false) mantra of “hook ‘em early and get a customer for life”. See: Coca-Cola, Cheerios, etc. However in today’s world people change brands, with only a few exceptions, quite regularly, and marketers miss a huge market by ignoring elders.

I ran media businesses in major cities, and we could not move the ad agencies off the 25-54 demographic (as if 25 year olds have any spending habits in common with 54 year olds.) One of the problems was that most of the time buyers were young. Very young. It’s a “starter position” at agencies, and you hope that after a few years you move up to be an assistant on an account or similar.

So the arguments fall on deaf ears, and the agencies are full of youth, and almost bereft of oldsters. A precious few make it to retirement, but not many.

And yet … that’s where the money is. I drive an Infiniti, not a Ford. I buy Chex Mix, not Lays Potato Chips. I go to the theater, I buy streaming channels, I visit Horne Depot and Lowe’s weekly, and get clothes at Kohls. We eat at restaurants a couple times a week, we vacation where we want. Last year we bought $20,000 worth of doors and $25,000 in awnings. But ask an ad agency - or most manufacturers - if I exist, and at age 76 the answer is “no”. “Sorry, your habits are already set, and you don’t try new things.”

Walk behind me at Kroger, Publix, or Costco for a week and see if that’s true. Spoiler alert: it isn’t.


Makes sense. That is the demographic with the most “mandatory spending” categories. Families = kids = ongoing mandatory spending for 18+yrs on the wide range of things needed over that time frame.

What I see for “older folks” advertising are a few categories:

  1. Gutter protection,
  2. waterproof/repair basements, concrete, etc
  3. incontinence products,
  4. Insurance (all types incl Medicare/Advantage plans, etc),
  5. AARP (LOL !!),
  6. Buy your house for CASH,

and so on.

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It’s frustrating. The boomers were the first generation that spent their quarters at the arcade, bought personal computers, bought programable calculators, bought game consoles, and burst through all the female stereotypes. The MMO games (and a lot of phone games) are full of retirees. And yet they keep making jokes about us not knowing how to turn on our computers or join a Zoom meeting. It’s just silly.


Except you were proven wrong and went home.

Goofing off is a habit for some folks. Why post false information and then claim you now know what you were doing? Wendy is talking globally. You were talking about the US. Again you do not follow the context of the discussion.

Goof honestly I have a problem with you because of how often you post false information as an attack on honest reputable posters who have accurate information to share.

There are more Millennials than boomers and Xers come in a close third to boomers. 20 million boomers have died already. There might be more Xers.

Well if you do the math it is probable the Xers are spending more as a group than the boomers.

Characteristic Population share
The Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) 5.49%
The Baby Boomer Generation (born 1946-1964) 20.58%
Generation X (born 1965-1980) 19.61%
The Millennial Generation (born 1981-1996) 21.67%

Actually if the claim is that about half of US consumer spending comes from the 50+ age demographic, Goofyhoofy is mostly right if we limit the discussion to adults (as I think is appropriate) and consider the issue less superficially than you are.

About 22% of Americans are under 18. That leaves a 78% adult population.

About 35% of Americans are 50 or older, which includes all of the Silent and Boomer generations and about half of GenX. That leaves 43% of American adults under 50 (78%-35%). A pretty small difference that approaches a rounding error.

Now consider that the under 50 spend a lot more on housing than older folks, many of whom have paid off their mortgages. The amount of spending on non-housing goods and services is probably about equal for those over and under 50.

This supports the argument that skewing American advertising to a younger audience doesn’t make a lot of sense.


Honestly Goofy was so confused he gave up.

@btresist you quoted in that thread

“…Fifty-six cents of every dollar spent in the United States in 2018 came from someone 50 or older, the study finds. In 2050, that number is projected to be 61 cents of every dollar …” AARP Study: Americans 50 and Older are Growing Economic Powerhouse.

In 2050 the youngest Baby Boomer born in 1964 will be 86 years old. Why did you quote that at all?

This is how bad your argument is.

Half of the boomers and late Gen Xers who took early retirement during the first Covid wave have fallen into poverty

Remember we the Me Generation were suckered into supply-side economics. Half the retirees do not have a pot to…in…The next 40% do not really have enough to retire. That is why saying the Boomers are such a marvelous spending group is total bull. Those with assets can not spend them down in their lifetimes in many cases.

Read the quote again, but more carefully. The quote specifies “someone 50 and older”, not Boomers. The American population is getting older, which means older Americans will be responsible for an increasingly larger share of consumer spending. Seems pretty obvious.

Someone is definitely confused, but I don’t think it is Goofy.

This is a quote from an article written by a senior vice president and chief economist at Visa Business:

Visa projects consumers age 60+ will continue to drive U.S. spending for the next five to 10 years
Baby Boomers Still Outspend Millennials | Visa

From CNN:

CNN Business —Baby Boomers are living it up, splurging on cruises and restaurants. Younger Americans are struggling just to keep up.

Bank of America internal data shows a “significant gap” in spending has opened recently between older and younger generations.

While Baby Boomers and even Traditionalists (born 1928-1945) are ramping up spending, Gen X, Gen Z and Millennials are cutting back as they grapple with high housing costs and [looming student debt payments.

From Advertising Week:

Although recent data shows Gen Z are increasing their disposable income; it’s set to reach $33 trillion by 2030, this sizable figure is still far behind Boomers’ spending power, which is an estimated[ $70 trillion](The Fed - Table: Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S. since 1989) of household wealth. As well as being a more important consumer segment than they get credit for, there is plenty of evidence to show Boomers are also in tune with the digital shift. This means that publishers aiming to enhance their monetization should start following the real money trail and appealing to Boomers. Gen Z vs Baby Boomers: Follow the Money – Advertising Week

People who truly understand business and economics recognize the importance of Boomers specifically and the over 50 crowd in general to consumer spending.


It is not consumer spending necessarily. Nursing home costs…

Mar 4, 2022

State Region Private Room Daily Cost Private Room Annual Cost Shared…
USA Nationwide $297 $108,405 $260
Alabama Statewide Average $231 $84,315 $220
Alabama Anniston Area $230 $83,950 $219

View 478 more rows

@btresist The report is seven years old. It is from 2016. I cant believe how you do not even read what you present on the most basic of levels. Goof did not read that either.

But the data is not saying much of a cut…

Spending increased by 5.3% for Traditionalists and 2.2% for Baby Boomers. In contrast, spending fell by about 1.5% for younger generations.

1.5% because of what? C’mon you were listening to CNN for this and did not question it?

A 1.5% decline and you think this is evidence of what?

That is just dumb on “Advertising Week” article’s part. The $70 tr v $33 tr are assets not disposable income. Your home is not disposable income. adding reading this I need to say the GDP is around $25.5 tr last I read. So no the boomers do not have $70 tr in yearly disposable income.

No people just want your money. The talk is transactional crap.

After reading Wendy’s post, I just innocently wanted to say - Oh, yes, Through the Darkness is an absolute masterpiece, but then scrolling down, I simply had to read all the comments. I hereby say I don’t regret a single minute - that was one very informative debate.

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Yes, I’m sure people are putting their nursing home costs on a VISA card, which was one of the data points offered. No, I’m absolutely kidding. Several people have brought actual evidence, statistical analyses, educated viewpoints, business insights, and you offer “nursing home costs.”


Oh look, squirrel!


Visa was talking about overall consumption. Again you are not using classing techniques properly.

I like the sarcasm but you say things with no thought put into them.