Thought Leadership
  • Content marketing

Health and fitness brands are missing the mark on the most profitable age group

Nadia Fidler
5th December 2018

You’d be forgiven for thinking millennials are the most profitable age group for brands, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over-50s now account for 70% of total consumer wealth in the UK, but despite this market being hugely lucrative, it is neglected and unrepresented in marketing efforts.

Marketers often seem to assume that all over-50s want is something to help them navigate the path to their grave.

Whether this is content that promotes mobility walkers, stair lifts, funeral plans or, better yet, shopping for a coffin, as an industry we often miss the mark when it comes to recognising what this cohort really wants. In reality, they’re looking for so much more than a smooth segue into their twilight years.


Health, fitness and wellbeing as a priority

Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands Study found that a large group of over-50s want to sustain their fitness levels, with 41% feeling that being at their best physically is one of their top three life priorities. In fact, research shows that those aged over 50 spend more time each week exercising than their millennial counterparts. Added to this, 58% have a genuine interest in wristband fitness technology.

On top of this, the over-50s market has the financial means to make purchases that are cost prohibitive for many younger age groups. According to SunLife, a fifth of Brits aged over 55 have more than £100,000 in savings. In fact, it’s predicted that the spending power of over-60s will reach $15 trillion by 2020, so it’s obvious that this market is a huge opportunity for brands.

But does the health and fitness industry cater for this market?

The fitness industry has come a long way in its approach to content creation and product development. Back in 2015, Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign became a landmark for authentic and powerful sports advertising. It was honest, realistic and inclusive – empowering women across the UK to get involved in sport.

Since this campaign, we’ve seen the rise of brands that also encourage inclusivity, such as ‘Fat Lad at the Back’ (FLAB), which was founded by a woman whose husband struggled to find cycling gear that fit him. And the opening of studios such as ‘Fierce Grace’ that banishes zen, white and pure yoga referencing in place of a more inclusive experience for all body types.


The birth of these campaigns and products pave the way to encouraging a more diverse audience to get involved in sport. But while these are powerful examples of how brands can effectively broaden their customer reach and banish perceptions that the industry has a lack of inclusivity, very few campaigns target the over-50s market specifically with relevant messaging.

Audience slicing and dicing

Smart marketers need to scrap the lazy ‘over-50s’ tag and segregate according to personality, passion, preferences and importantly – life experience. Collectively, the ‘over 50s’ market clusters together individuals that can have up to a 40-year difference in experiences. It would be very challenging to find similarities between someone who just turned 50 and someone who’s in their late 80s, for example. In such instances, it doesn’t make sense to create a ‘one-size-fits-all’ campaign.

Brands must instead consider how individual experiences impact the way consumers interact with the brand. For example, the over-50s demographic has witnessed huge technological and cultural change in their lifetimes thus far, including witnessing the birth of the internet, rapid technology transformation and societal norms become more progressive.

When we add these life experiences to their preferences for a fulfilled life, interest in tech, keenness to exercise and ability to spend, this presents many health and fitness brands with opportunity.

Using data and insights to understand these characteristics, brands can tap into this audience’s emotions and trigger a response via content that activates a behaviour – whether that be to use an app or wearable tech that tracks fitness levels, introducing them to diet plans or new exercise routines.

Changes to make in 2019

While content and advertising efforts are becoming progressive and fitness products more inclusive, when it comes to the over-50s market, the health and fitness industry still has a way to go. Brands need to dig deeper, explore this age group on a more granular level and segregate it according to its many varying characteristics.

In 2019, I’d like to see this sector ploughing more time into creating innovative and hyper-targeted over-50s campaigns. Brands must not forget that these campaigns don’t necessarily need to be costly or complex in order to be a success.

Flora ProActiv is a prime example of this. The healthy spread alternative engaged the over 55s via a concentrated effort to educate them about cholesterol. This was following a discovery that almost a quarter (23%) of this age group feel brands fail to focus on customer service in marketing.

The brands that are making an effort to appeal to this age group are few and far between. Those that act now will reap the benefits of appealing to this hugely lucrative audience.

How are you making sense of your customer data?

To find out how digital marketing agency Mediablaze can help you to make sense of your data on over-50s, or any other demographic for that matter, get in touch with us –

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