Powered Unpacked: Over 50s have all the money – but advertisers and algorithms are getting them all wrong

The Rise of the Super Consumer

Over 50s have all the money – but advertisers and algorithms are getting them all wrong: Russel Howcroft, Chris Colter, Mitesh Khatri and Lisa Day on how to fix it

There’s a stream of research that shows Australians over 50 are spending big despite interest rate hikes, while younger people are tightening their belts. But marketers, agencies, media and targeting algorithms are largely getting the over 50s all wrong – and missing immediate growth opportunities. Time for a rethink, say Nine, Initiative and GfK. 

Marketers are increasingly focused on reaching influencers. The problem is, many are targeting the wrong ones. An increasing body of evidence underlines the fact that Australians aged 55-plus now hold the greatest influence – and buying power –with discretionary spending outstripping inflation.

For younger people, the reverse is true. Research by Nine and GfK finds that the spending divide between younger and older Australians is widening as the highest interest rates in 30 years bite hard.

Other researchers are drawing the same conclusions. Latest Commbank analysis of seven million customer accounts across 360 spending categories finds exactly the same thing. 

That shift has significant implications for brands and their marketing strategies – as unpacked at this month’s Big Ideas Store by 3AW Breakfast host and advertising guru Russel Howcroft, Initiative’s Chris Colter, GfK’s Mitesh Khatri, Powered by Nine’s Lisa Day and Nine’s Ash Earnshaw.  

About to get richer

A large number of Australians in their mid-50s to 60 already have significant discretionary spend. Their kids have left home, and per Russel Howcroft, they will soon command even greater financial firepower, given their early boomer” parents are “entering their twilight years”. Kids gone and incoming inheritance “puts them in the sweetest of consumer spots”, says Howcroft. And that’s before downsizing homes is factored in. Plus, after decades spending the bulk of their incomes raising a family, many are now spending it on themselves.  

“People used to say life begins at 40,” said Howcroft. “Life is now beginning at 55.”  

Powered by Nine’s Lisa Day underlined that point.

“It’s a sobering fact, but 80 per cent of Australian wealth is held by 41 per cent of the population who are 45 years-plus,” said Day. Marketers not fully focused on those who are middle-aged and upwards are therefore targeting just one-fifth of the total addressable market in financial terms. 

Commbank’s findings that people aged over 50 are outspending inflation is unsurprising, since half of that cohort “have paid off their mortgage, and a quarter of them have an investment property”, added Day. “So, they have more assets than liabilities. They’ve got bigger savings. They can weather this [inflationary pressure]. They’re out spending because they have a buffer – which younger audiences simply don’t have.”  

Most powerful influencers

The Nine and GfK research makes a case for Australia’s middle-aged cohort to actually be more powerful influencers than some of the younger social media influencers paid by brands to push products. It found strong brand loyalty amongst 45-64-year-olds – which has network effects, with two in five stating that they are involved in the purchase of products for family and friends, and a third stating that they actively talk about experiences they’ve had with brands.   


Rethinking 'lazy' planning, ads

The research also found people on average see themselves as seven years younger than they actually are. Plus, most are tech savvy, have broad media consumption and do a tonne of research before making a purchase of any significance. Which means that just sticking an old person in an ad is a bit of a miss, per Initiative’s Chris Colter.  

“Marketers with a myopic view tend to just go, ‘Oh well, I need to show someone with white hair if I’m targeting that audience’, and I think that that’s a mistake,” Colter said.  

He thinks planning as a whole should take into account that age can be largely immaterial to interests and cautioned against targeting too narrowly on that basis. Plus, he warned that algorithmic targeting can be just as guilty of unconscious bias.  

Colter cited Initiative research for a finance brand as an example.  

“We do a lot of digital twinning as one of our research methodologies – basically a fancy way of saying that we create fake social profiles and watch what the algorithm serves them.”  

In one instance, Initiative created two profiles with 'attitudinally identical' characteristics, but set one profile’s age as 24 and one at 57.   

“We just changed the age. But one was served almost exclusively with retirement ads, funeral insurance and anti-wrinkle cream. The other was served travel ads,” said Colter. “So I think we need to do better as an industry at tackling some of the algorithmic bias before we lean into some of that targeting. And also in thinking how we approach these audiences in more mass broadcast environments so that we’re resetting that norm as well.”  

Howcroft agreed: “We need to be sophisticated in how we go about execution to this really wealthy cohort.” He thinks the media industry might need to rethink how it packages audience demographics.  

“I’ve often thought that demography [based on] age brackets is a bit of a nonsense in a way. Rather than cutting people vertically, if we just go by – let’s call it values and attitudes – you’re going to find a lot of commonality no matter what the age.”  

Should that shift occur, some planners would welcome it. “I genuinely think we should be progressing marketers towards psychographics over demographics,” Initiative’s Colter says. Either way, “I think making sure you’re matching psychographics with demographics is super important.”  

Target today's buyers over tomorrow's

Nailing planning and creative to more effectively target older audiences will drive immediate growth, said GFK’s Mitesh Khatri, which marketers are under acute pressure to deliver.  

“We see a lot of brands targeting the recruitment [of new customers] for tomorrow and the focus on younger age groups. That’s never going to go away, but I think the research clearly shows where the dollars are right now” Mitesh says.   

 “Where’s the spending happening and are we overlooking this audience? I think it gets overlooked too much because too many brands come to us saying, ‘We want to target the next recruitment into our brand,’ and a lot of those brand targets are sitting at that 25-to-40 age group or younger” he added.  

He thinks there is an opportunity to change “marketing’s view, society’s view, perhaps government’s view of how we look and treat this audience”.   

“There’s a huge opportunity to step outside the box, look at the attitudes, look at how they think about life, their values. They want to enjoy it and connect on a deeper, more meaningful level beyond age.”  

In the meantime, Powered’s Lisa Day has a simple tip for advertisers rethinking their approaches to over-50s.   

“People think and feel younger than they actually are. If you're an advertiser, don't be conservative in your tone or use of images. Pitch younger, more youthful and you'll be surprised how well you'll do" said Day. 

Contact us for more information on how your brand can leverage the power of Nine to deliver real business outcomes.

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The Value Equation

Group 2

Value is an elusive concept, that changes from one situation to the next. But the first thing to note is that value is most certainly in the eye of the beholder. In the context of consumer culture, value is the perception of what a product or service is worth to a customer versus the possible alternatives. Worth means whether the customer feels they received benefits and services over what they paid.

Group 2

Value is inherent throughout our lives,

even when it isn't about money


Doing someone a favour
"I owe you one"


Giving gifts
Relationships, bonding


In kind
Swaps, passing things on through online marketplaces


From a dinner or holiday

Group 1
The story

We set out to understand what value means in today's world, by focusing on five core categories which are representative of, and indicative of the broader Australian consumer market.

Giving structure to value across five categories




Instore Retail


Booking Travel


Financial Services


Tech & Appliances


How value manifests by category today

Group 1

Australian's have gone from a pandemic mindset straight into a cost-of-living mindset. But disruptions such as bank crashes and data leaks have birthed greater appetite for security and privacy.

It's clear that no matter the category, value needs to deliver more than just lower prices

The instability of the economic, and geo-political climate has made consumers prioritise traditionally functional values such as reduced cost, quality, accessibility, and safety & reliability today.


Value drivers that will become more important in 2030

The pursuit of sustainability & the end of abundance living

Quote 1
Quote 2

Navigating an increasingly complex world

Group 1 copy
Group 2

To unlock the full potential of value is an exercise that isn't necessarily that straight forward … but when you get it right, you will reap the rewards.

The beauty of value comes with its complexity - value changes by mood, category, time of life, and it's extremely contextual, but also changes by point in time.

Value is relentlessly evolving. We shouldn’t be approaching value with a fixed point of view. The world around us isn’t fixed, therefore our approach to value shouldn’t be.

It is a delicate balance that requires rigor and science to optimize to its most full potential.

Often we throw around value as quite a flippant term, but the gravity it holds is game-changing and we want to help you unlock its full potential.












Source: Nine’s Proprietary Research -The Value Equation

For further information on the research, contact your Nine representative or complete the form. A member of the team will be in touch.

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I Am What I Am


We live in an increasingly complicated world, where there are many ways of ‘being human’. At the same time, all people share some experiences in common: all learn, exchange and communicate beliefs, create and maintain social relationships, and adapt to different environments and situations.


Identity is made up of a broad variety of aspects, and not all of them are perceived to be in our control


When it comes to living our identity, some aspects are more important than others

'Personal values' is the core of our identity, our guiding star. And it helps define who we are and how everything else is perceived, shaped and prioritised.


To understand what it means to be human, we look at the importance of connection and the influences it has in shaping our identities.


The closest, most intimate inner spheres have highest levels of influence, both positive and negative

“When I travel to Asia to see my family, I tend to play down the Western values and adjust myself to please and not offend.”



Social media has created shortcuts to hard-to-access communities, enabling discovery and connection​

Sharing things online feels very easy compared to in-person, as I am not speaking to any one person specifically. I’m not editing myself to fit a certain person.

Gen Z


There has always been a need for humans to live in alignment, but number of factors have come together in more recent years to accelerate this need.




of Australians agree that what was important to them became of even greater importance during COVID.




of Australians have made changes, are changing, or want to make future changes.


There are four main barriers limiting our ability to change​


Time/knowledge restraints
(Mostly Gen Y and Gen Z)



Financial barriers
(Mostly Gen Y)



Lack of confidence
(Mostly Female, Metro)



Fear of the unknown


It’s clear that the desire to have our lives reflect our identity is an enduring human need, and that the experiences of the past few years have accelerated and put greater focus on this need. In the past, we may have asked how brands can best reflect or represent these needs. But the question now is how can brands actively support someone expressing and living their identity?

Social media has created shortcuts to hard-to-access communities, enabling discovery and connection​

“Today I saw an ad by Bras N Things that showed a plus size woman with voluptuous curves. Seeing this ad made me whoop and fist pump the air!”



When it comes to identity and personal expression, there are four categories that brands fall into:

Champion brands

That seek to make change by showcasing different people and supporting different voices and viewpoints

Positive support

Brands that authentically represent a wide range of different people


Brands that do nothing to represent anyone outside the mainstream

Negative impact

Brands that showcase tokenistic representation or harmful stereotypes

We surveyed 50 brands on how they represent different aspects of people's identities ​


Source: Nine’s Proprietary Research - I am what I am: Identity and Brands

For further information on the research, contact your Nine representative or complete the form.
A member of the team will be in touch.

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Rise of the Super Consumer



Meet the Super Consumers

In 2021, Powered by Nine introduced you to the Blindspot in Australian marketing - a high value audience who were under valued and under represented, but worth $2.3 billion in weekly household spend. That blindspot is Australians aged 55-64.

Earlier this year, we partnered with GFK to undertake a new study, taking a deeper dive into the behaviours and impact of the Super Consumer.

Source: ID Consulting, census 2021

Recap on the event

What you need to know


Australia's population is ageing

From 2016 to 2021* Australia’s population has increased by 2.02 million, with 13% of that growth coming from people aged 55-64.

Overall, the median age has increased from 35 to 38 over the past 20 years.

While people aged 25-44 represent the largest age cohort in terms of population (28%), the 45-64 year groups equate to 25%, of which around half are over 55.

Source: ID Consulting, census 2021


Rethinking retirement

The retirement age is the oldest it has been since the early 1970s.

Shift in retirement age since early 2000s:

63.2 > 66.2

61.7 > 64.8

Source: KPMG, Feb 2023. ‘When will I retire?’ Educated Aussies are choosing to work longer. [1] ABS, RBA Mar 2020 'Demographic Trends, Household Finances and Spending'


Highest household income

45-54s record the highest household income and household consumption whilst 55-64s are on par with 35-44s, and increasing at the fastest rate.

Households headed by 55-64s recorded the highest real income growth, and their ability to draw down from their super further fuels consumption growth.

Growth in household consumption can be attributed to lifestyle changes:

  1. Stronger growth in their incomes, compared with other age groups.
  2. Household composition changes, such as children staying at home longer, or increased life expectancy.

Source: ABS, RBA Mar 2020 'Demographic Trends, Household Finances and Spending'


And while most Australians are struggling with the rising cost of living...

55-64s are the resilient super consumers

Less affected by the rising cost of groceries, interest rates, rental rates, and low wage growth

Source: Nine Consumer Pulse survey, March 2023

Report the lowest levels of financial distress (vs. other, younger age groups) and are significantly more likely to report that they have not experienced any financial distress in the last 12 months

Source: GfK Study April 2022

Feeling overall more positive than younger Australians

Source: Nine Consumer Pulse survey, March 2023

Spending habits

In the past 6 months, 45-64s have been spending on a wide range of categories from dining out and beauty to gardening and technology. They have also been spending more on all categories when compared to last year, with 49% having spent more on travel (domestic and overseas). And are spending more on key categories than their younger counterparts.

45-64s spending more when compared to last year vs average


(Higher among 55-64s, x1.4)


Solar power


Experiences and entertainment
(Theatre, cinema, etc. – higher among 55-64s, x1.2)


(Higher among 55-64, x1.3)


(Eg. smartphone, laptop, earphones – higher among 55-64s, x1.2)


Domestic travel/holidays

Source: GfK bespoke survey, April 2023



Despite their higher purchasing power, as consumers they are very similar to some of their younger counterparts

When it comes to brand loyalty, there are many generational similarities

Let us know how much you personally agree or disagree with each.
NET: Agree (%)


Source: GfK bespoke survey, April 2023​

Their media consumption is spread across multiple platforms

In a typical week, which, if any of the follow do you read, watch or listen to? (%)


Source: GfK bespoke survey, April 2023

Personal values are relatively consistent across all age groups too




Protecting the family






Enjoying life


Stable personal relationships








Working hard


However, when it comes to being green, 45-54s and 55-64s stand out among younger cohorts


Source: GfK Consumer Life, April 2023


Super Consumers are influencers


"My mother bought a car. I recommended Toyota because of its reliability."

Male, 55-64

"Typically mobile phones and what is best for my parents."

Male, 55-64

"My dad has asked me if I knew anything about toasters so I described the toaster (I recently purchased) and where I purchased it from."

Female, 55-64

"I was asked by my parents what streaming products I recommend and I highly recommended Netflix as it is the best brand for streaming the latest movies."

Male, 45-54

Influencing generations before...

...and after them

"My daughter and her wife have just bought their first house. As part of setting up their new home, they have needed to buy new appliances and organise plumbers and electricians. My daughter has asked my opinion on both brands and contractors to help her make decisions on what to purchase and who from. I have been happy to help with that as I know she values my opinions gained from life experience."

Male, 55-64

"I have advised my adult daughters on recommendations for things like insurance, supermarket products like brands of tea and coffee to just name a couple...

Also, my experiences with my laptop brand and the store I bought it from."

Female, 55-64

"My daughter admired my coffee machine. I explained its features and what was needed for the average coffee buff. We discussed brands that she had been looking at in comparison to what I had."

Female, 45-54

"My son has wanted to purchase the same sort of fridge that I had just bought. So, I guided him on what to look for in a fridge and the companies/websites to look at or avoid."

Female, 55-64

Source: GfK bespoke survey, April 2023 qualitative interviews​

And their influence is not limited to their immediate family


2 in 5


told us they are involved in the purchase of brands/products for their family and friends


1 in 3


said that they actively talk about experiences they have with brands, products or services

Source: GfK bespoke survey, April 2023

Super Consumers are...


Informed and engaged



Now is the moment to re-think 'how we've always done it.'

For further information on the research, contact your Nine representative or complete the form. A member of the team will be in touch.

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The Portuguese chook that put some punch into poultry

The Portuguese chook that put some punch into poultry 

Oporto and Nine’s Powered unit blended Ehrenberg-Bass, Les Binet, Peter Field and Daniel Kahneman’s thinking to drive brand uplift, and sell more flaming good chicken, via Love Island Australia.

It’s been a busy few years of marketing headlines as we’ve observed the clashing of our Australian academic titans, raced to get to better attention metrics, argued over short-term sales tactics at the expense of brand building, and everything in between.

The recent Mi3 podcast with James Hurman and Douwe Bergsma was so deeply refreshing after such a tsunami of “mine is better than yours”. It was almost cathartic one might say, as they talked us through their best ever recipe for building and communicating a brand for success. It felt reassuringly familiar for those of us who treasure our dog-eared hard-cover copy of How Brands Grow (2010), and who managed to download The Long + The Short of It three years later (2013) from the IPA, (we respect those of you who waited patiently for the hard cover to hit our shores).

If we loved Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics Dan Ariely, and his fabulously upside down book Predictably Irrational, it probably whetted our appetite for Thinking Fast and Slow by the extraordinary Daniel Kahneman where System One and Two thinking instinctively made sense as we saw ourselves and how we make choices. The power of emotion in our decision making was perfectly placed front and centre.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll be wondering why a headline about poultry penned by Powered at Nine has anything to do with this? Well, here it is.

We’re a smart, experienced, and deeply engaged group of dreamers, thinkers and doers, who read, debate, argue and then come together in fresh and fabulous ways to bring Nine’s brands to the service of our clients, to help them grow.

That’s what happened when we met Sam Bragg, the CEO of Portuguese chicken brand Oporto.

Clever chickens,
no bird brains

With Powered’s friends at Brand + Story we introduced the real live founder of Oporto to a new generation. Their parents may have hung around Bondi back in the 1980s’ but they had no idea. Talking with Gen Z about Antonio Cerqueira felt right; he was authentic, and he didn’t take himself too seriously. Our client Sam Bragg gave us her trust to explore how we could bring him to life with this audience at Nine.

Brand + Story shot the campaign on location in Southern Europe. Australia met Antonio Cerqueira during the first episode of Love Island Australia. In the launch 30-second commercial the Oporto founder was back home in Portugal looking for recipe ideas, but had also decided to make his own ads. Upon hearing that some young Australians were being held “hostage” on a Spanish island, with little to wear and not much to eat (his interpretation, not ours) he was on a mission to find and feed them. The campaign unfolded as a sequential story of 30 and 15-second spots throughout the series as we follow Antonio on his journey.

Choice of a new generation

Back to the Hurman/Bergsma recipe. What we baked instinctively (thank you Ehrenberg-Bass, Peter Field, Les Binet and Daniel Kahneman) was pretty damn close.

1. We pulled together a commercial model for Oporto that gave them a robust share of voice on Love Island Australia with strong creative cut-through.

2. We didn’t go down a hyper targeting rabbit hole, instead agreeing that anyone watching Love Island Australia and loving QSR was fair game.

3. Sam Bragg was already a fan of Binet/Field and we agreed that Oporto needed to establish its authentic brand story, one that could build over time, to create future demand, not only short-term sales.

4. Mental availability simply means easy to think of in a buying situation. We needed to make it easy for people to go “Oporto!” It was part of the brief to Brand + Story and boy did they deliver. The low-fi, home-made feel of the campaign was talked about in creative circles and amongst our audience (anecdotally). We had a new shout out “Oporto”, we now wave our finger when we want to order more chilli sauce, and more young Australians now know the authentic story of the brand.

5. The beginning, middle and end of this southern European saga was emotionally charged. Classic story telling, with a heroic protagonist, an important goal and finally, salvation. We had Portugal, we had high drama (Australian hostages), we had a less than competent (albeit loveable) home movie maker starring in his own Portuguese chicken ads that looked like they were shot on his phone (some were!) We laughed, we cried, we ordered more chicken.

6. As a challenger brand, the need for creativity that punched above its weight was critical for Oporto. And we had a client brave enough to go with it. We had negotiated the Love Island Australia IP with ITV Studios, to give us licence to play, and we had Brand + Story primed to break the rules for QSR advertising. There wasn’t one glossy hero food shot to be found, just plenty of happy Portuguese and an even happier Antonio.

Did it work, you ask?

We probably wouldn’t be crowing about it if it hadn’t worked, but here are the tracking results* for Oporto with Powered by Nine: 

This was the first year Oporto had sponsored Love Island Australia. Not only did it meet the industry benchmark for a sponsorship, but it also exceeded, with the kind of numbers Gemba is used to tracking for a sponsorship in its third year.

Unsurprisingly, Love Island Australia viewers track with higher levels of engagement with QSR brands, which is exactly why Powered recommended a Love Island Australia sponsorship. Oporto had the highest uplift in the category, from 14 per cent to 24 per cent.

Enjoyment levels whizzed up to 67 per cent versus the TVC average of 52 per cent and personal relevance peaked at 61 per cent versus a 51 per cent TVC average.

The brand was easy to recall, the creative increased familiarity with Oporto, and we were bang on in driving Oporto’s authenticity with our Gen Z audience.

Source: All metrics and measurement via Gemba

Samantha Bragg

Samantha Bragg, CEO of Oporto, is happy: “It’s been a really refreshing and rewarding way to work, coming together as a cross-discipline creative team, with great stewardship from Nine throughout the journey.” 


Contact us for more information on how your brand can leverage the power of Nine to deliver real business outcomes.

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