Brands: ignore ‘the flat age society’ at your peril

This was just one of the messages from the recent bi-annual Future Laboratory trend briefing I attended – and it’s compelling stuff – where the term ‘old’ is dead, age isn’t just a number, it’s just ‘flat’ … welcome to the Flat Age Society. 

Smash down the stereotypes – the over 50’s aren’t winding down, they’re winding up – think Dolly Parton, 68, Main Stage at Glastonbury.   They’re not all snoozing on cruises, carrying-on coaching, regulars of the Bridge Club or garden centre potterers, they’re vibrant, dynamic and want to be engaged by brands who understand them.  Dolly looked and acted half her age and that’s the same for one of the most powerful generations of present day – the Baby Boomers – the over 50’s who represent 1/3 of the population. By 2020, half of the population will be 50+. Someone turns 50 every 40 seconds in the UK these consumers control 89% of the UK’s disposable income, brands should not ignore this high spending, highly engaged demographic.

64% have a social profile and 15% of Facebooks daily users are currently 55+ with 72% of them visiting daily – 4/5 of them via a smart phone or tablet.  They’re the SKI set – nothing to do with slopes – but rather ‘Spending Kids Inheritance’ – on adventure travel, re-romancing post divorce or separation, wearable tech, health & fitness.


So forget everything you thought about being old, or age even. People are living longer. They are retiring later, or not at all. They are altruistic, want to – and can- give back.  They are healthier. And they simply don’t look, act or feel old. This isn’t about your grandparents going skydiving, however. It’s about a mind shift in which people are seeing the years after 50and 60 as ones of possibility, when re-engagement, exploration and expertise can be re-interpreted and re-applied. 

Beauty is big for the Boomers, and will continue to be so for Generation X and Generation Y as they reach their 60s and beyond. Some brands are moving towards more positive marketing of beauty for 50+ consumers. YSL recently launched Or Rouge, a skincare product containing saffron, which YSL is promoting as a ‘renaissance treatment’ rather than an antiaging cream.

What this means for brands … Flat-Agers aren’t defined by their age. They’re moved by their interests, passions and ambitions, just like everyone else – they want experiences that feel like they always have.  They have money to spend on meaningfully connecting to their friends and relatives, and the world around them, as well as being of an altruistic mindset, wanting to give-back. Most of all, Flat-Agers want fun, so forget anything that’s staid, ugly or old-fashioned. The party isn’t over. For the Flat-Agers, it’s just getting started.

Rikki Weir – Board Director 

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