The impact of a rising life expectancy on marketing

New research reveals that South Korean women will be the first in the world to have an average life expectancy above 90.

The study by Imperial College London and The World Health Organisation analysed the lifespans of 35 countries and predicted that all would see people living longer in 2030 and the gap between men and women would close in most places.

The US performs poorly and is on course to have the lowest life expectancy of rich countries by 2030, predicting an average age of 80 for men and 83 for women. It is also the first country that has stopped growing taller which is an indication of poor early life nutrition. Between 2015 and 2030 life expectancy in the UK is expected to go from 79 to 82 for men and from 83 to 85 for women. Women wanting to live the longest should move to South Korea, France, Japan or Spain and men wanting to outlive the majority should move to South Korea, Australia, Switzerland or Canada.

The findings pose big challenges for pensions and care for the elderly. It also has massive implications for marketers. As more people live for longer and are healthier the current demographic groupings will change. Already in our lifetimes we have seen a revolution amongst the over 65s many of whom are not the stereotypical ‘old granny’ sitting in a rocking chair. They are fit and active - many well into their 80s -  just look at the likes of Jilly Cooper, The Queen, Sean Connery, Kirk Douglas, William Shatner, Clint Eastwood, Michael Caine and Dick Van Dyke to name but a few. It stands to reason therefore that the over 65s instead of being lumped together will need to be segmented into different groups making them an incredibly attractive to marketers. However, as increasing numbers of brands recognise the potential older people will begin to receive more marketing.  But sadly, as is the fact of life, when they do pass away it is crucial that marketers have processes in place to stop marketing to these individuals as it can be hugely upsetting for the friends and relatives left behind, not to mention incredibly brand damaging.