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Why Marketers Shouldn’t Ignore the Elastic Generation in Advertising

I’m a big advocate for lifelong learning. It’s fuel for our growth, exploration and imagination. One of my favorite resources are the reports created by the Innovation Group at J. Walter Thomspon Intelligence (JWTI). (If you don’t follow them, do so immediately. You’ll thank me later.) Earlier this year, the Innovation Group released Elastic Generation – The Female Edit, a gender-specific, updated look at a report the company released back in 2015. Although the results reflect the U.K., they are a nearly identical mirror image of the U.S.

Considering that I and many of my friends are just around the corner of the age range JWTI identified, this report was one of the most resonant industry-related reads I’ve seen in months. I’ll take this opportunity to cover a few key points, but I encourage you to read the entire, free report.

Elastic Generation Women

What we know as Baby Boomers, JWTI has renamed the Elastic Generation in homage to the group’s “innate resilience, strength and potential: hence ‘elastic’.” Advertisers, businesses, service providers and government offices tend to behave as if the group is homogenous; it’s not. Women in the Elastic Generation are quite different than their male counterparts. Elastic Generation women are at an age where they feel comfortable owning their lives and making choices specifically for themselves. They are no longer taking a back seat to anyone.

The women who participated in JWTI’s study said they were more confident and more outspoken, and less concerned about their age or what other people think of them. I read this and thought, of course we are. We are actively involved in business and our communities, we may be busy with children or grandchildren (and aging parents), and we are having fun with friends and family. Elastic Generation women are experiencing a rebirth of sorts. Yet, they feel like the older they get, the more invisible they are to society.

Advertisers Miss the Mark

Advertisers and the people that craft their messaging are still looking at Elastic Generation women through the same old, tired lens. Many brands continue to assume that anti-aging is the topic that occupies much of their thoughts and drives their buying behavior, when the opposite is true. For these women, who JWTI define as age 50 to 70, aging is simply a number, and one they don’t care much about. Their perspectives, physical capabilities and financial situations exert greater influence on how the live, and how they buy.

JWTI’s report indicates that nearly 75% of Elastic Generation women ignore advertising because they find the messaging patronizing, annoying, stereotyped and out-of-touch. Yet, some advertisers aren’t getting it. For example, in 2016, Procter & Gamble’s Olay brand spent a reported $215 million in advertising, and as recently as last year, Olay was promoting its effort to rebuild interest in the anti-aging category. That adds up to some abysmal ROI.

Brands have a huge opportunity to flip the script on this one. Understanding the true perspectives and behavior of Elastic Generation women can guide a brand to connect with them in more authentic ways. Rather than beating the anti-aging drum and encouraging women to fight wrinkles, a skin care brand could shift its messaging to focus on keeping skin healthy and helping women feel good in their skin. It doesn’t require big stretch of the imagination to do.

Curious about the Elastic Generation and want to chat about it? Contact me anytime at Katie@kgbtexas.com or (210) 826-8899.

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