Life in the Slow Lane

July 7, 2008

Study: Older TV viewers less loyal to brands

Filed under: Television — pauljlane @ 12:05 pm

This study was released this morning. It found that older buyers (those ages 40 and older) are less loyal to the brands they buy than their younger counterparts. I know in our house, we for the most part stick to the same handful brands whether due to price, quality or whatever. I guess since older folks have more money, they feel more adventurous with it.

This might make ad execs rethink who to target with their ads, since it’s usually the 18-to-49 segment that’s most coveted. But if those folks don’t switch and older people do, well, go get them.


With 40 and 50-somethings at or near the peak of their earning potential and typically having several financial dependants ranging from small children to elderly parents, this prime Adult demographic is making the majority of the household spending decisions, according to TV Land’s “Generation BUY:  A Close Look at the Boomer Consumer” Study.  The findings from the study were expressed today during a press conference at the National Press Club by Larry W. Jones, president, TV Land, who was joined by Kim Alexis, host of TV Land’s original reality series “She’s Got The Look” and Beverly Johnson, a judge on the same series.  Not only are 40 and 50 year-olds spending more on themselves per month than Millennials and Gen Xers but more interestingly they are spending twice as much as their younger cohorts on others in their lives.  With so many people to shop for, Boomers are making several multi-generational purchase decisions at once and — contrary to common assumptions — they are far less brand loyal than Millennials and Gen Xers.

TV Land’s “Generation BUY:  A Close Look at the Boomer Consumer” Study, fielded by OTX, includes input from almost 4,000 adults ages 18-65 nationwide.  Commissioned by TV Land, a division of Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks, the study provides information on the purchase decisions and brand loyalty of Adults 40-59.  The study is part of TV Land’s commitment to better understand and superserve this dynamic adult audience. “She’s Got The Look” is part of TV Land’s strategy of delivering programming that reflects the life stage and attitude of the network’s target demographic.  This new original series has resonated with TV Land’s audience and concludes this Wednesday, July 9 at 10pm (ET/PT).

“While we have always known that it’s a mistake to underestimate the power of people in their 40s and 50s, ‘Generation BUY’ once again shows us that Boomers are a major source of consumerism in this country,” states Larry W. Jones, president, TV Land.  “Knowing that this generation has so many dependants, the means to buy the products that appeal to them and the willingness to try new brands is powerful information to share with our marketing and advertising partners.”

“This research once again dispels myths about 40 and 50-somethings,” states Laurel Wichert, vice president, Research, TV Land.  “The lack of brand loyalty coupled with their purchasing power makes the 40-59 audience an extremely desirable target that should not be overlooked.”

TV Land’s “Generation BUY” study found three traits that make up the 40-59 consumer: “Promiscuous Purchasers,” “Free Agent Shoppers” and “Savvy Switchers.”  More often than not the breadwinners in the household, Boomers make most or all of the family spending decisions.  With the large amount of purchase decisions they are making for others spanning multiple generations, they are “Promiscuous Purchasers.”  The “Generation BUY” study found that people 40-59 spend more than three times the amount of money per month on spouses ($514) than adults under 40 ($169).  Additionally, they spend nearly twice as much per month on kids ($295 vs. $158) and three times the amount per month on teen children ($494 vs. $136).  With so many purchase decisions to make for the household, these “Promiscuous Purchasers” are an important marketing sector even when they are not the prime target.

TV Land’s “Generation BUY” study also found that 40 and 50-somethings are more open to new brands and less brand loyal than people under 40 making 40-59s “Free Agent Shoppers.”  Twenty-six percent of Boomers said they are not at all brand loyal versus 21% of Gen X and Millennials.  In fact, Gen Y are the most likely to say that once they have made a commitment to a brand, they will stick with it, no matter what.  The willingness of 40 and 50 year-olds to buy new brands carries over across virtually every product category including electronics, personal care products, restaurants, automobiles and more.  And when compared to the Generation who came before them these “Free Agent Shoppers” have very different spending habits.  No longer will this age group buy the same products based on lifelong brand decisions and spend less as they age.  This demo is redefining brand loyalty and determining purchase decisions based on the effectiveness of products.    Today’s 40 and 50-somethings stick with a product for as long as it’s good and fulfills their complex needs.  They are not afraid to change for something they feel will improve their lives.

Baby Boomers consider themselves open-minded and evolving.  This is core to their identity and key to their purchasing behavior.  Another key finding of the study is that while Boomers are very open to new brands, they will not switch just because something is new.  Adults 40-59 are “Savvy Switchers.”  Ninety-one percent of people in their 40s and 50s want the brand to provide more value versus 83% of Gen X and Millennials.  Forty to 59s want substance over style and care about the promise of a brand over the image of a brand.  Boomers will consider new brands if that brand is a better alternative – the product or service must be more useful, functional and provide the most benefit/value.  Unlike Millennials and Gen Xers they are less likely to be influenced by the notion that the brand is more prestigious or the latest style; instead, their purchase decisions are based on reliability and quality.  The product/service needs to have the best features, not necessarily the most features.

Since Adults 40-59 tend to make purchasing decisions informed by what products and/or services will make life easier for them, it follows that the advertising that resonates with them is the kind that explains the products’ capabilities and describes why the product is superior.  Boomers are less interested in “teaser” ads that create a mood but do not offer much in terms of substance.  While this demo is more likely to enjoy ads with humor than their younger cohorts, ads with popular songs and celebrities are less appealing.

TV Land’s “Generation BUY” study was done in two phases.  First, qualitative research focus groups were conducted to identify key insights and hypotheses. Second, between January 4th and 12th, 2008, 2,900 Adults 18-65 took an online survey about brand loyalty and decision making.  From February 22nd to 24th, 1,000 Adults 18-65 took an online survey about brands and purchasing habits.


1 Comment »

  1. That’s the truth…I’ll tell you….


    Comment by The X-Rated Grandma — July 7, 2008 @ 6:05 pm | Reply

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