In light of the growing importance of consumers older than 50 years, a U.K. study examined strategies to reach those consumers. While conventional advice about targeting older adults suggests using rational rather than emotional appeals to be effective with older target groups, Socioemotional Selectivity theory (discussed in this JAR paper) suggests the opposite.
The current study tested the theory among adults age 19 to 90 with print advertisements for a variety of products and found:
• Contrary to expectations and prior socioemotional selectivity theory research, older adults demonstrated clear preferences for rational over emotional appeals, which suggests that conventional advice was correct all along.
• This research confirms that ad messages and creative should consider the consumer target: since preferences differ by age, what works best when advertising to younger people will not necessarily work well for older consumers.