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She’s 50 and Controls Most U.S. Wealth – But Is She Your Customer?

Marketers spend plenty of time and effort attempting to reach a younger audience, preferably 18 to 34 with plenty of disposable income to drop into the economy. It’s a demographic where sellers hope to establish a foothold and reap the profits.

It may surprise the young and educated people expending so much focus on that youthful age group to learn that real wealth, in the US, isn’t under the control of all those desirable twenty-somethings. As noted in a recent BBC articleon women and entrepreneurship, one must look to a different age group instead.

“It’s a very desirable demographic,” LivingBetter50’s Carol Doyel said. “Women aged 50-plus in the US control about three-quarters of the wealth – they may not own it, but they make the decisions and manage that wealth.”

While this idea may be a revelation to those who hope to sell as much beer, snack food and trucks to viewers of the upcoming Super Bowl game in a couple of weeks, it’s not news to companies like Procter & Gamble. Bloomberg’s account of trying to appeal to the 50+ crowd said they have about $3 trillion to spend just among the US segment of that age group. And Amazon launched a website last year dedicated to customers over the age of 50.

Other than products that remind older consumers that they are indeed aging, no one seems to have found the light beer/potato chip/extended cab truck that truly appeals to this rich and expanding market.

Nielsen tells us half the US population will be 50+ in three years. For ecommerce pros planning ahead, it’s probably time to look for what these customers will value in a seller beyond just a product line, and consider what these shoppers will want in terms of service in order to build a hopefully long-term, profitable relationship.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.