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35: The magical median age for communication

35: The magical median age for communication
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First Published: Tue, Nov 11 2008. 09 57 PM IST

Updated: Tue, Nov 11 2008. 09 57 PM IST
Laugh if you must. But increasingly I feel like I’m in my 20s. My elderly dad says he feels a good decade younger than his years. In contrast, my teen neighbour thinks, and acts, more mature than his age. In the process, all our mental ages seem to be converging in some magical mid-zone.
That’s where median advertising is increasingly stepping in. Now that young blades are thinking and acting in a more mature fashion and older people are thinking and acting in a more youthful manner, many advertisers worldwide are encircling 35 years as the magical new median age to target in their communications. That’s where they believe our mental ages are meeting, and this all-encompassing route definitely offers more savings for advertisers in these stressed times; they need not customize creatives for different demographics.
So, some of those yuppies you see in ads, be it for suits, durables or whatever, may be there for a purpose. Advertising space is expensive these days and media audiences for most print and TV vehicles are actually declining. By pinpointing someone who’s actually 35 years old, advertisers reason they also reach folks who are on either side of the age fence, but are mentally 35.
It’s a safe, cost-efficient way to talk to many more for less. Especially since many advertisers are actually quite confused about what their core audience really is. Also, there are various product categories such as suitings, durables, etc., that have so many sub-layers that it’s tempting to shoot the median arrow to reach audiences across the age spectrum.
Behavioural targeting is the big theme these days. Advertisers target audiences based not just on age and socio-economic parameters, but also on psychographics or their mindscape. On what you feel rather than what you think.
Is the median approach too simplistic and sweeping? Well, treading the middle path could erode the aspirational value of premium and niche brands. And, not everyone’s travelling in mental age at the same pace, say pundits. Also, not everyone has the same values or goals.
Brands could also alienate their core audiences by talking to 35-year-olds. For example, a hip brand suddenly focusing on them could become Daddy-O (a brand specializing in clothes fashionable in the 1950s) for teens.
Don’t be misled, though. Median advertising is not fuzzy or broad-based. It pinpoints one exact age. Some powerhouse brands have also been traversing every age continent to broaden appeal. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate spoke to children in ads, then looked at those in their 20s and 30s with its popular commercial showing a girl dancing in a cricket field. And then grandparents were shown enjoying their chocolate bars.
It’s a toss-up. However, the midfield will only see more players.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Your comments are welcome at advalue@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Nov 11 2008. 09 57 PM IST