Money & Business

Why One Association Created Its Own Ad Agency

By / Aug 20, 2015 (Influent50 screenshot)

Realizing the difficulty many businesses have in marketing to baby boomers, AARP recently launched an advertising agency to help companies better identify with and target the 50+ generation.

With all the focus on millennials lately—how to engage them, how to market to them, how to get them to join—baby boomers may be feeling a little left out.

AARP wants to change that with a new full-scale ad agency dedicated to connecting businesses with those over 50. Influent50 will use hard data, market research, and AARP’s five decades’ worth of specialized knowledge and insight into the preferences of baby boomers to help companies promote their products to them.

“We know more about consumers than ever before, and Influent50 gives a voice to an often overlooked consumer group,” Dave Austin, managing director of Influent50, said in a statement. “There is a paradigm shift around what it means to age, and we get it. We know how to uniquely reach and communicate to consumers 50 and over better than anyone else, and we don’t rely on outdated stereotypes.”

The agency, which is part of AARP’s for-profit subsidiary AARP Services, Inc., currently has several clients, including UnitedHealthcare, Chase, and Avis Budget Group, Inc.

It’s an interesting endeavor given the challenge of targeting the 50-plus market and the current focus on millennials.

“The 18-to-34 age group is just seen as the sexier audience,” Scott Collin, Influent50’s chief creative director, told The Wall Street Journal, which also noted a lack of expertise among marketers on how to reach boomers, with campaigns often missing the mark.

This is backed up by Influent50 research, which found that roughly 80 percent of boomers reported marketers are making mistakes when trying to target their generation. Forty percent also reported that they believe marketers don’t know what’s important to them, and almost 50 percent said stereotypes of their generation are inaccurate.

Stereotypes such as the idea that boomers are brand loyal. Not true according to the Influent50 research—82 percent are open to new brands. “Changing and trying new brands helps boomers feel like they are staying current,” Peter Hubbell, founder of ad firm BoomAgers, told WSJ.

Beyond the missed potential hidden behind stereotypes is the boomer generation’s rising spending power and market influence. Boomers are expected to control 70 percent of the country’s disposable income and will make up 50 percent of the population by 2017, according to a Nielsen/BoomAgers report [PDF]. Nothing to sneeze at if you’re a marketer.

“Boomers are simply too valuable to ignore—there is much to be gained by prioritizing them, and much to be lost by passing them up,” the Nielson report noted.

Thus, given AARP’s leg-up on this demographic, it will be interesting to see if Influent50 can help turn the tide on marketing’s misconceptions around boomers and help advertisers better identify with the increasingly influential group. And while some are arguing that the new agency will not be able to disrupt the youth-based marketing industry, only time will tell.

How has your association used its industry expertise to demystify stereotypes or help others better understand your members?  Please share in the comments.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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