The Disconnect Between Marketing and Money

The next time you see an ad for Sprint or Coca Cola or McDonald’s, ask yourself the simple question:  Who is this ad targeting?  Why?

The next time you read financial reports and hear about companies like Abercrombie & Fitch or other stores targeting teens and younger adults struggling, you should think about the same questions:  Who is their market?  Why?

These are very good questions.

These companies are targeting a consumer segment that is declining in both relative size and affluence.  The trend isn’t new, but executives aren’t necessarily tuned into demographics.  Or they are victims of habit and groupthink.  Or they don’t know how to change with the market.  Or they’re chasing faddish marketing technology and missing basics.

 Size:  The charts below show the profile of Americans by age.  The story is simple and obvious.  We’re living longer and there are relatively fewer children and young adults.  Educators understand this, with the growing emphasis in universities on adult education.  Pharmaceutical companies clearly understand this.

However, executives of CPG and technology companies seem to be missing the point. Marketeers are missing the point.  How many older Americans use their cell phones to shop or bank?  How many of them have trouble just manipulating the keys?  (Full disclosure: I’m one of the oldsters.)


Wealth:  Older Americans control more than 70% of disposable income in the US.  Period.

Just exactly how are stores  making shopping more comfortable for older consumers?  When was the last time a display designer even considered the challenges older consumers face?

Heck, I’ve had to get down on the floor to get a bottle of white vinegar off a bottom shelf in a Wegmans.  How many 80 year olds would or even could do that?  Many wouldn’t even realize the product was there.

LLBean management are the experts in handling older consumers.  Managers at other stores should visit the store in Freeport to see how its done.

The famous bank robber, Willie Sutton, once told an interviewer that he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.”

Frankly, that’s how marketers need to think.  If you want to make money, you have to sell to the people who have the money to buy it.  Until the US addresses the problem of the cost of education, the 20-something market is tapped out.  The target market for US resellers and technology companies should be upwards of 50 years of age.









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