What do you see in your mind’s eye when you hear the words ‘over 50’? For those reading this who are well under 50 it may be quite a different picture than that envisaged by those in this ‘age bracket’.
This is because we’re wired to stereotype, to make attributions about a person or entity purely on the basis of the category to which they belong and in the absence of any further information.
The downside of stereotyping is that you could be wrong. Indeed, Harvard University developed the Implicit Association Test (IAT) that has shown stereotypes about age are stronger and more resistant to change than those about race or gender.
And this is a real problem when it comes to innovation. According to Professor Tom Kirkwood, Dean for Ageing at Newcastle University, over-65s contribute more than £65billion to the UK economy but this could be much higher.
In an article on the issue he said: “Older people can really deliver growth. This is a tremendously important national and societal resource just simply being parked in garden potting sheds.”
Marketers often target the ‘younger generations’ yet the older generations are not only a great source of business, they are also a great source of insights. After all they have a wealth of life experience and, more often than not, are willing to share it.
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