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Marketers too blinkered with media planning that ignores demographic with most cash to spend

(but Kia’s cashing in)

Research from Nine and Kantar says marketers’ singular focus on younger demos has led to media plans and creative campaigns that miss the highest spenders: high earning and progressive thinking 55-64 year old consumers. Kia marketing boss Dean Norbiato agrees – but thanks rivals for leaving the path clear for Kia to tap the most lucrative prospects.

Don't act your age

Brands are missing a trick when it comes to their media plans and creative executions by focusing too heavily on 16-39 and 25-54-year-old consumer groups.

A study from Nine and Kantar shows brands misconstrue older demographics as people hanging out for retirement, rather than high value earners.

“One of the key quotes that I heard over and over and over again was they do not feel, and they don't want to act their age. More so that they think of themselves as 30-year-olds in 55-plus bodies,” Emma Lewis, Senior Account Director at Kantar said.

“If you add in the fact that they've got more confidence, life experience, time on their hands and are less weighed down by some of those domestic responsibilities of people in their 30s and 40s – and definitely have more money – they're gold for marketers.”

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Spend and influence

Nine and Kantar estimate this "blind spot" to be worth $2.3bn in weekly household spend.

But Kia Marketing GM Dean Norbiato argues the value of the 55-64 demographic goes beyond the cash in their wallets.

In a high cost, big decision category like automotive, he says the older generation also influence the decision-making of consumers close to them, who are often in the 16-39 and 25-54 brackets.

“Instead of rolling up for the retirement queue, they're very much rolling up their sleeves and getting into work in some high-end roles – with wider disposable income that comes off the back of that,” said Norbiato.

“That makes them important in purchasing, because in a lot of decisions, they impact not only their own decision but also their immediate influence group, like their friends and definitely their families.

“To someone like me in auto marketing or someone who would sell or market real estate, they're very important – they need to be considered.”

By way of example, Norbiato said a friend recently texted to say they had just bought their granddaughter a new Kia Cerato.

While the granddaughter had done the bulk of the research into the purchase, he said the ability to “veto” the decision or influence the path to purchase was very much in the hands of the older relative.

“He hears from Kia, he sees Kia, he understands what we stand for, and he was able to validate that purchase,” Norbiato said.

“It’s a real life example of how not only will the 66-year-old have the ability to purchase his own car, but he materially impacts and influences the decision of the granddaughter.

“So you've got to really understand that consumer journey and interrogate and understand the role that the older age group play.”

However, the Kia marketer concedes it is often tricky to shake the “shiny” appeal of the younger generations, especially with the recent boom in emerging social media platforms such as TikTok. He says marketers must cover all bases – and demographics.

“Coming up with a new media campaign on an emerging platform that garners a lot of attention, it is new and it creatively gets you going, is something that can draw a lot of marketers,” Norbiato said.

“That shouldn't be at the detriment of your existing media spend. So you shouldn't turn off one audience to target a new audience. There needs to be a balanced approach.”

Think 10 years older

The common mistake being made is often around understanding that the older demographic’s preferences are becoming more aligned with younger consumers.

The difference is that they have greater spending power, more confidence and have fewer responsibilities, according to Toby Boon, Director of Strategy, Insights & Effectiveness for Nine.

He advises brands to think more broadly in order to maximise results.

“In terms of practical changes that marketers can make, the first step is a really easy one – it's to think about extending your targeting from 25 to 54, to 25 to 64,” Boon said.

“Think about extending your existing demographic by 10 years and in some buying systems, that's as simple as clicking another button, or typing in another age. That's a really simple first step.”

Boon said the second thing that brands need to consider when targeting older consumers is to be more inclusive in their ad creative.

“That means thinking about the way that you do casting, thinking about the way that you do messaging, leaning into who these people really are and thinking a lot less about how you can rely on easy clichés to get those messages across,” said Boon. “They want to be targeted.”

Creative eye opener

Briggs was pleasantly surprised at Nine’s creative capability.

“That’s definitely something for all of us to remember. I spend a lot of media money and I probably don’t think enough about the other elements and where you can get more from it,” he says.

“We’re maybe a bit too quick to say, ‘Well, we’ve got a creative agency already,’ and you get a bit of a blind spot. But in this instance, we’ve shown ourselves that it’s not necessarily the best way to get the work done. The production capability meant we could go really fast, yet everything was done to an exceptional standard. So for me, it was definitely an eye opener.”

Watching results roll in

While brand campaigns can only be measured over the long term, Briggs says the early signs are good.

“This was very much a brand play for us. But we’ve had a great March. We have had some really good website traffic, up 6-7 per cent on January, with a higher proportion coming from direct and organic. And March was very good from a top line perspective as well,” he says.

Ahead of running an assessment of the MAFS execution next month, it’s hard to pick out a single element of its marketing mix in driving that growth. But Briggs says he’s feeling confident, given the buzz the campaign has created.

“We've got 400 stores across Australia and New Zealand, a couple of million people go into the website every month. They are such big numbers that it's hard to pull out one thing, but everything works together,” he says.

“People were definitely talking about it. We had good interaction on our own socials. There was a buzz within the office."

“I think it had an impact at the right time of the year – and with the numbers we saw, for the first time in a long time, I was eagerly waiting for the ratings to come through. You're looking at them and thinking, I can see these results in the numbers.”

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