Advertising & Practical Thinking

The advertising profession is cold and cruel. The power of practical thinking is a perfect antidote.

Friday, September 08, 2006

"The Choice Group"

Watch prime time programs on Network Television on any day of the week. Most, if not all, advertisers are doing their best to reach and influence mostly those in the age group 18-44.

Many marketers are now taking "being enamored" with this audience group, and indulging them, to new levels. They are trying to reach the 18-44 with brand extensions, product differentiation, enhanced packaging, and special promotions. All as if they are the only consumers of their products; and, this we believe is something inappropriate.

Till a few years ago, 18-44 with all its subsets, was the audience in terms of numbers, affluence, and spending patterns.

Today, and for the foreseeable future, most marketers have to admit that there is a different audience they must start reaching.

An audience that is nearly half the US Adult 18+ population, accounting for over 40% of the total US spending. This oversight, we believe, is costing marketers billions of dollars.

According to the US Census, the 45-64 age group is responsible for over 42% of total US spending (over 36% of total household spending.)

Yet, this audience is widely, and mistakenly, ignored.

PentaTwo believes this is wrong. This age group should be "The Choice Group" for many marketers. Something ignored!

We do find it intriguing that "The Choice Group" is indeed ignored. Could it be because:

  • Network Television, especially prime time is programmed only to reach the younger audiences effectively?
  • Most advertising agencies are designed to cater to the needs of the younger audiences? Look at the age of the creative groups in these agencies! Do they really think they can reach "The Choice Group" just because they are using songs like "Happy Together," and "Do You Believe in Magic?" for every other brand?
  • There is this old saying that brand loyalties are built at a young age. Today, is this not a myth?
  • Most agencies cater only to product/service categories, as opposed to specializing in gaining an uncommonly common knowledge of the consumer?

Those in "The Choice Group" are perceived to be:

  • Brand loyal consumers and they do not switch brands.
  • Hesitant to experience new products and new services.
  • The Geritol and Grecian Formula market. Today, they are even referred to as the Viagra audience and the Matlock generation!
  • A part of the total audience. The line of thinking is that the product and brand messages aimed at the younger audiences will move up the age ladder and reach them sometime and somehow.
  • Difficult to reach, just because prime time TV cannot be used efficiently.

"The Choice Group" constitutes more than just a head count. It is what is inside their head that counts:

  • They launched and shaped more successful brands than any other demographic group.
  • Their core values were shaped largely by what was going on in their world and cultures when they were about ten years old.
  • They have more in common with their own 20-year old self than they have with their 20-year old children.
  • They grew up at a time when life changed faster than during any other era.

"The Choice Group" grew up with:

  • The Vietnam War and Give Peace a Chance.
  • The Birth of Rock and Roll and The Day the Music Died.
  • Falcons and Beetles.
  • The Eagles and The Beatles.
  • Bell Bottoms and Bikinis.
  • JFK and MLK.
  • FAX and FedEx.
  • Civil Rights and Women's Lib.
  • Broadway Joe and Masterpiece Theater.
  • Cheers and Light Beers.
  • Bunker and Carson. Cannon and Gunsmoke.
  • Jumbo Jets and Mini Vans.

PentaTwo knows. We grew up with them. Some of us are still growing up. We may be middle-aged or old, but we think of ourselves as young. The word "retirement" is not in our vocabulary. We are intellectually and physically active. We have experienced more physical, cultural, financial, environmental, and technological changes in life than any other single group. We have learned by living.

Marketers and their advertising agencies need to open their eyes. Look around them. Listen to the voices. Read what is being written. They may see and hear what we do.

Many of the marketers and their agency folks may be a part of "The Choice Group." Do they see, read and hear their own messages? Something for them to think about.


Blogger BrentBrotine said...

Bala, nothing frosts me more than the Fidelity Investments commercials, industry awards be damned. To me, this is lazy advertising: pick a '70s song, add a few visuals of people in their 50s, and bang, you have a retirement investing commercial. They've used Time Has Come Today, Shake Your Booty, Nothing From Nothing, and most recently In A Gadda Da Vida -- not to mention their association with Sir Paul. Now Ameriprise is following suit with Happy Together. This all strikes me as pandering. (Full disclosure: I worked on the Fidelity account years ago at Foote Cone, and the then-current management was dead set against using ANY kind of background music because "financial products are serious decisions"; one of my least pleasant memories is running back into edit the week before a spot was scheduled to air to pull the carefully-scored original background track and having to say through clenched teeth to the client that "you're right, it's better without."

11:40 AM  

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