The demographic group with the most spending power in New Zealand is largely ignored by marketers.
The "Secrets & Lies" report released by marketing giant WPP last week showed that 94 per cent of survey respondents over 50 said they dislike the way brands, organisations and marketers communicate with them.
"That's a shocking statistic," says WPP chief strategy officer Rose Herceg.
"It means that marketers and advertisers, in general, are just getting it wrong."
She estimates that less than 2 per cent of briefs received from marketers in New Zealand specifically target New Zealanders 50 and older.
This is despite the fact that over-50s account for 34 per cent of the population, 59 per cent of the private wealth and have access to 49 per cent of the disposable income in New Zealand.
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Roy Morgan data quoted within the report shows that this highly influential group outspends millennials across categories and accounts for 41 per cent of all car sales, 43 per cent of all travel and 45 per cent of all alcohol sold in this country.
And yet marketers and media companies still exercise much of their attention toward attracting younger consumers with marketing that largely dismisses those holding New Zealand's purse strings.
Herceg points out that when marketers do reference anyone older than 50 it's usually loaded with imagery of people slowing down, disconnecting and generally taking it easy.
"All that imagery we see of somebody walking down the beach with a sweater tied around their shoulders is just incorrect," Herceg says.
"In many respects, they are actually reinventing their lives. They're getting remarried, they're going back to university, they're creating small businesses. They're entrepreneurial by nature."
She says the common stereotypes also overlook what this demographic contributed to history and culture.
"Those born between 1946 and 1964 are the very same people who experimented with drugs in the 60s, protested the Vietnam War, waged relentless campaigns for women's liberation and revolutionised music," she says.
These misrepresentations, argues Herceg, can be attributed to the fact that the marketing industry remains fixated on the 25-54 demographic, leaving Kiwis aged 50 to 80 represented as a largely homogenous group of old-timers ambling into the sunset.
"I really think we should break it down into slivers. New segmentation across this group should be invested. We should be looking at 50 to 54, 55 to 59, 60 to 64 and so on. This way we can look at all the changes that happen across those final 30 years of our lives."
With the likes of George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt all older than 55, popular culture provides a strong reminder that life doesn't end when you reach your 50s.
Herceg says that New Zealanders are living longer, healthier lives and continue to engage in a range of activities – including travel and sport – well beyond their 50s.
"They don't want marketers to get rid of the wrinkles and give them an airbrushed look. They love being in their own skin. What they don't love is scenarios that have them sailing or walking on the beach.
"The scenarios should show them going on a date because they're recently divorced, returning to university to study or another career or starting a new business."
Part of the reason marketing has veered so far from understanding this demographic is that the staff makeup in marketing and advertising skews heavily to the young side. Advertising is often referred to as a young person's game, with older staff often pushed aside and accused of losing touch with what young consumers want.
"We have to make sure we have representation of people in these industries that are 50-plus. At WPP, we are up to 12 to 13 per cent of our total workforce at this age group, which is great, but we'd love to get it higher," she says.
"The point is that age means wisdom and experience. It doesn't mean that you're not with the times anymore."