Is 65 the new 55?

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TVNZ is adding its weight to those who advise advertisers to ignore the older demographics at their peril – and the broadcaster emphatically is not referring to life insurance and funeral ads.

“Older Kiwis are calling time on narrow perceptions of how they live and choose to spend their money in new research that explodes a number of myths about New Zealand’s aging population,” says TVNZ group insights manager Kathryn Mitchell.

“Is 65 the new 55?” she wonders. “TVNZ’s Forecast report is the first piece of research to come out of a new initiative that delves into the defining issues facing New Zealanders today from a consumer standpoint.

The findings were presented by Nigel Latta at a business event hosted by TVNZ in Auckland last week, and will be published at later this week (we’ll publish the actual date later this week).

A quarter of New Zealand’s population is now over 55. TVNZ spoke to over 1000 Kiwis aged 55 to 75 to find out what’s really going on in their lives. The research challenges New Zealand’s age bias, Mitchell says.

“New Zealand has a growing aging population but we know very little about them as consumers – many talk about feeling invisible, written off as out of touch or boxed into a narrow range of stereotypes that focus on their age rather than their attitude towards life.

“But we talked to over ’55s who hoon about on scooters with their grandkids, who skydive and are keen gamers. That’s more rock ’n’ roll and less rocking-chair than we might have expected.”

The research canvassed attitudes on a range of topics including home life, housing, work, finance, technology, health and physical wellbeing.

“We’re curious about what makes Kiwis tick and we know New Zealand businesses are too,” Mitchell says. “Forecast is all about us wrapping our heads around a challenging issue and sharing what we find out. We were excited to be working with Nigel to bring these insights to life in an entertaining and accessible way and we hope it will spark a lively conversation among Kiwi businesses.”

Forecast unearths an untapped market – the newest business opportunity could very well be the oldest.

“Forecast is hugely revealing about how much life changes over the course of that 20 year span. You simply can’t lump all people over 55 into one basket,” she says.

“Between the ages of 55 and 65 many Kiwis we spoke to talk about feeling a lot of pressure. Most are in work, they’re paying down debt and juggling a number responsibilities. We call them the ‘sandwich generation’ – they’re supporting their adult kids and caring for elderly parents.

“Turning 65 marks a new beginning. It’s like people get a second wind – they have more freedom, they’re feeling better off and they are more inclined to spend some money. Yet it seems the only time advertisers want to talk to them directly is about funeral arrangements! We heard from a lot of over 65 year olds who said there’s very little advertising that’s relevant to them.”

At the same time, Forecast finds people aged 65-75 spend on a broad range of consumer products and services. In the last year 14% bought a new car, a quarter switched service providers and more than half enjoyed travelling within New Zealand or overseas.

The Forecast research on New Zealand’s 55 plus generation was carried out by Colmar Brunton for TVNZ.

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