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Mature Consumers Are an Overlooked Multi-Trillion-Dollar Opportunity

  • Consumers in the 50- to 70-Year-Old Segment Influence Their Younger Counterparts’ Purchases to a Surprising Extent, Especially on Large-Ticket Items Such as Vehicles
  • New BCG Report Details Why Companies Should Not Ignore Their Mature Consumers

BOSTON—Brands that underestimate mature consumers—the nearly one billion people worldwide who are 50 to 70 years old—are missing out on a multi-trillion-dollar market in today’s challenging economic environment. Mature consumers constitute a large and growing segment that is currently responsible for 27% of spending (around $7 trillion) each year across nine product categories in 12 key markets. Mature consumers are relatively resilient to economic shocks, buy high-quality products that they value, and exert considerable influence on younger consumers’ purchasing decisions. Nevertheless, brand marketeers often ignore them. These consumers are the focus of a new report being released today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Center for Customer Insight.

Titled Don’t Overlook Your Mature Consumers, the report looks at the 870 million consumers in the 50- to 70-year-old age bracket across 12 markets—Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the UK, and the US—that collectively account for almost half of the world’s population. The size of this consumer demographic will continue to increase over the next several decades, reaching almost 1.1 billion in 2050 across these countries.

“Mature consumers are often ignored by brand marketing, largely because of a number of lingering misconceptions,” said Aparna Bharadwaj, a BCG managing director and partner who leads the firm’s Center for Customer Insight globally, and is a coauthor of the report. “They are perceived as being price sensitive and reliant on brick-and-mortar stores for their purchases. Nothing could be further from the truth. But marketers fail to recognize their role as trend setters, and they struggle to engage them through conventional marketing techniques.”

Mature consumers are active online, with 90% using social media platforms daily. Although they appreciate being able to engage live with sales agents, they also value the convenience of using online channels—sometimes even more than their younger counterparts do. In the US, for instance, 46% of mature consumers purchase apparel online, compared with only 36% of the younger demographic.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the 50- to 70-year-old consumer segment is much more likely to influence younger consumers than the other way around, across all product categories included in the study. This is especially true with regard to large-ticket items. About 36% of younger consumers reported being influenced by mature consumers in their vehicle purchases versus only 15% the other way around, and about 31% of younger consumers were influenced in their investment choices versus 15% the other way around. 

Within the 50- to 70-year-old age group, a concentrated 20% of top spenders, termed vibrant mature consumers, account for approximately 55% of the group’s total expenditures across the product categories included in the research. The category-specific numbers range from 50% of spending on vehicles and 54% on travel to 68% on investment products. Vibrant mature consumers tend to be happier, enjoy a more active lifestyle, and worry less about money than other mature consumers. 

“Marketers too often underestimate the value that mature consumers bring to a brand, especially the concentrated vibrant mature consumer segment, and as a result they struggle to engage them using conventional marketing techniques,” said Patrick Witschi, a BCG associate director and a coauthor of the report. “A nuanced approach is needed to win their trust and loyalty, including tailoring messages to their interests and inclinations, providing factual information via direct, personalized interactions, and designing omnichannel purchasing journeys dedicated to them.”

Download the publication here.

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