The silent generation, composed of people born between mid 1920s and early 1940s are 47 times richer and are likely to spend 4 times more than their younger counterparts, thanks to their huge disposable income, this according to a recent analysis by the Pew Research Center.
Even so, most marketers in Kenya have given this generation a wide berth and instead are targeting mostly young people.
According to a marketing analyst, marketing is the game of numbers. He explained that while the silent generation is likely to be found at the lower base of the population pyramid in most European countries, these senior citizens are quite few in developing countries, Kenya included.
He is of the opinion that since this forgotten generation is spending more than saving, a brand that target it with right product is likely to benefit from grey shilling.
In Kenya for instance, people aged 65 years and above accounts for only 2.7 percent of the population whereas those below the age of 15 years accounts for 43 percent of the whole population estimated to be 47 million by the Central Intelligence Fact book 2015. The average age in Kenya is 19.1 percent while average life expectancy stands at 63.77 years.
Although the silent generation market is dormant in Kenya, it is a force to reckon in the west. According to the study dubbed the spending power across generations conducted by the Intergenerational foundation in UK, older people have become wealthier because of the aging baby boomer generation who own most of assets especially in the housing sector. With no more saving, the aged have more disposable income, a trend that is well captured in the study.
The study shows that people aged above 50 years are spending twice as much per year in theatre and cinema tickets than those aged below 30 years. On overseas travel, those aged 65 and above increased expenditure in 2011 by a whopping £1.3 billion while those below 30 years spent £922 million less of what they used in 1999. The study further showed that over 65s enjoyed the largest per capita increase in annual spending on food compared to their younger counterparts.
Moreover, reports by Saga – the financial services and leisure company for the over 50s in UK claims that ‘grey pound’ accounted for 50 percent of consumer spending in 2012.
Elsewhere in US, according to analysis by the Pew Research Center, households headed by people age 65 and older were worth just 10 times the median net worth of households headed by people 35 the last three decades but this gap has widened to 47-to-one
According to Misty Sanford, Social Insight Thought Leader in US, the silent generation people who were once considered financially conservative are now willing to spend in all spheres of life. It is no longer real estate and leisure only. ‘’They have a now or never attitude and are ready to splurge,’’ he noted.
Unlike in Kenya where the silent generation is 2.7 percent of the total population, in US, 14.5 percent of the total population estimated at 321.4 million in 2015 by the United States Census Bureau. The medium age is 37.8 years; double that of Kenya while the life expectancy is 79.68 years. In UK, those aged 65 years and above represent 21.9 percent the total population estimated at 64.6 million during the 2011 census. The life expectancy is 81 years while the average age is 40 years, more than double that of Kenya.
According to Encore Perception Marketing Company which is based in US, the silent generation is very conservative and dislikes change, new technology and wasting of money. In its report dubbed the low down on marketing to the silent generation, the marketing firm advice marketers use customer loyalty programs; coupons; use a combination of traditional marketing and social media marketing which show how services and products being sold can help them and their families.
The report further shows that advertisers must use conservative channels like TV, Radio talk shows and print materials. People in this generation prefer hard-copy information explaining the benefits of making a purchase; try face-to-face instead of email or phone.