Older Demos

Just the facts, Ma’am…

 I don’t know an AC or Country station that isn’t dealing with aging demo issues.

The simple truth is, America is getting older. The 45+ age group now makes up the majority of those adults over the age of 18, having grown by 10% in the last 10 years.

The problem is, it seems like most time-buyers, most ad agency creatives and copywriters are younger, 20-somethings. That’s why you feel that few of the spots you watch on TV make sense; most ads aren’t targeted at you, and they’re almost certainly not written by someone as old as you.

It always seems the Sales Departments in most radio stations — and not just in America — want whatever demos your station doesn’t have. And that’s not a recent change. It was like that when I was programming KIMN in the 80s.

So there’s an artificial pressure to push naturally adult formats younger to get in on more “buys,” at the same time there is undeniable demographic pressure moving your listeners the opposite way.

And, as this article details, there’s a huge difference between those at the youngest end of the “Boomer” generation and those at the older — a supposedly homogenous grouping, according to demographers.

These differences in the psychological needs of humans at various stages were first explained by Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. My friend, John Parikhal, has often been a source of illumination about this topics, as has Roy Wiliams, the Wizard of Ads.

This is an issue for two reasons:

  1. Trying to artificially move a format targeted at Adults ever younger when demographic facts are moving the opposite direction is likely to cause dissatisfaction among the P1s of that format.
  2. If we ever hope to add accountability to our advertising campaigns, we need to start aiming our message properly. That includes writers, creatives, and time-buyers.

My needs, my psychological needs, are not the same as the needs of someone 15 years younger than I am. The message written for the younger guy won’t even fall within my radar.

If our ads don’t work, if our ratings are suspect because of insufficient sample size (a problem for another post another day), and if our PR is as anemic as it has been for the past 20 years, in the face of frontal assaults by Sirius and Pandora, why would anyone invest their marketing budget with us?


It’s sure not making the job easier, is it?