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Booming Business: Why Older Audiences are Golden for Home & Garden Brands

Posted In: HOME by Sophie Cork,
May 22, 2024

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Sophie Cork, Senior Planner

As many brands seek to chase an elusive “cool” young audience with their marketing efforts, they can often be surprised to learn that their ideal audience are actually much older than they thought. In this blog, our Leed’s agency’s Strategy & Planning consultant Sophie Cork shares why brands in the home improvement sector should embrace having an older audience base.

As a marketing agency specialising in the home & garden sector, we often see brands picturing their customers as 30-something digital-savvy trendsetters, millennial couples or young families with plenty of money to spend on high-quality, exclusive-feeling brands to decorate their expansive new homes.

But the reality is that while these audiences do exist, they’re actually pretty rare; from our experience conducting consumer research in this space, it’s far more likely that these younger audiences have less money to spend on their homes compared to their older counterparts, and prefer to shop high-street and certain big (blue) box retailers. We find that it is actually the older population who hold the key in this space; not only do they have more money to spend on their home, with retirees enjoying the fruits of their labour in later life, but also more likely to do so. The 60+ audience often have more reason to spend on the home due to their lifestage, whether that’s investing in large-scale renovations like building extensions or conservatories to add value to their properties as insurance for later on, or converting the rooms of children who have fled the nest (home gym, anyone?).

This is all backed by research, too. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that those aged over 55 are 2.5 times wealthier than the general population, generated from a combination of untapped pensions and continued earnings (over 60’s are estimated to be earning 94% of the UK median income still); they’ve got money to spend. And they aren’t saving it for a rainy day either: this older age group outspend the average adult in almost all categories defined and measured by the ONS, including home and property. 

So why is this discrepancy occurring between who brands think their audiences are, and who are actually more valuable to them? We think it comes down to brand image, and the perception of what people think the 60+ audience find appealing when marketing for the home. There can be an assumption that in order to attract an older audience, brands must rely solely on ‘traditional’ signifiers such as heritage, or represent only older people in advertising (think stairlifts or antique-style décor).

However, we’ve seen from our own client’s experience that ‘younger-feeling’ brands absolutely do still appeal to the 60+s. Online heating specialists BestHeating underwent a rebrand in 2021, overhauling their image to one that was explicitly ‘cooler’, with bright colours, round typography and modern home backdrops, and saw they didn’t lose any of their previous foothold in the older target market. In fact, their core audience base remains to be the highly valuable 60+ empty-nester, something which BestHeating embrace. Instead of shying away from this, or changing their brand identity to fit the perceived ideals of this group, they instead focus on getting to know their audience better, tailoring things like website experience and customer support to best suit their needs. 

Another reason why brands might shy away from the older audience is that they feel that the 60+ consumer is harder to attract with advertising, and so they focus their marketing efforts on capturing the attention of the younger generation. We can see this clearly through media spend data from Nielsen, as brands in the home & garden sector have increased their advertising spend on digital channels, from 8% of total budget in 2019 to now around 50%, while the more traditional channels like TV spend dropped from 57% to 33% and Print/Press from 21% to 9% in the same period. It can be attractive for brands to want to swap to often lower cost, more direct response channels like digital and social, particularly for e-commerce businesses, and while it may be true that older audiences tend to have lower engagement with online advertising, long-term sustainable growth for these homes brands could be at risk. Brands need to continue investing in multi-channel advertising that not only is seen by the older generations in the places they engage with most, but also that build trust with these audiences, driving to secure-feeling online journeys. 

So, what can brands in the home improvement sector do to avoid underestimating their audience? The first step is to get to the truth of who the customers really are. Brands need to do away with the assumptions or hand-me-down pen portraits and run some profiling analysis using real customer’s data. From here, you’ll get a true picture of the makeup of the current buyers, which can be used to create bespoke strategies of how to find more of them. And remember, a well-crafted brands speak to everyone, regardless of age, so ditch the stereotypes and prioritise communicating clearly to your audience in quality, trust-building environments and watch your brand grow. 

Got you thinking? What to have an honest chat about how to grow your audience and your business? Drop us a note hello@weareboutique.co.uk and let’s grab a brew.


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