I’m fifty-nine years old, a very interesting age if you’re a consumer. Most companies assume I’ve already made my buying choices for life; they figure I’m set with toothpaste, razor blades, deodorant, etc. As a result, none, and I mean none, of their advertising is directed at me. On the other side of the equation, I’m not quite ready for products that are designed for Seniors — stuff like life-alert systems, those grabber things that pick objects up off the floor, shower chairs, and playing card holders. Heck, fifty-nine isn’t even old enough for most senior citizen discounts. The result — unless you’re a travel company, digestive aid, or pain reliever, you really don’t acknowledge that I’m out here.
Does any of this bother me? No, not really. It’s just a weird place to be. I see a commercial with two twenty somethings brushing their teeth, scrubbing away with some new high-powered toothpaste, and I’m thinking, hey, I want whiter teeth, how about a little gray hair around the sink? (As an aside, I’ve never seen people happier cleaning their teeth than in TV ads.) Then there’s that beautiful young couple bantering away in the Buick. Doesn’t GM want me in a new car? I kind of get the feeling that they think I’ll drive the thirty-somethings away (pun intended.) And, clearly, the powers that be have decided I’m not the market for tablets or smart phones. Folks my age are always being tutored by their grandkids in ads for that stuff. Instead, they try to get me to buy a flip phone with large keys.
For the record, in the last five years, I’ve changed razor blade brands, underwear type (to dry-fit, sorry if that’s TMI), and car insurance companies. Also, my wife and I have purchased a Subaru, a brand we’ve never bought before. I’ve adjusted my diet to more vegetarian, switched to organic products, and even like kale. Did any of this register in the advertising models? Did any market study even recognize that I could be persuaded? Did some guy, dressed in all black on Madison Avenue, ever wonder where I’d spend my money? Ahh, probably not. It begs the question — am I that far past my prime they no longer need me?
Don’t answer that.
I’m sitting here, blessed with disposable income, nestled in that vapor between the “sweet spot” and true senior-citizen status, waiting to be wooed. Longing for someone to say, “Hey, fifty-nine-year-old guy, we value your dollar.” Waiting to be targeted by products other than protein drinks and those term life insurance policies whose premiums never change. Watching for someone that looks like me in the Fitbit ad. Searching, frantically, for a middle-aged man in cut-off shorts, celebrating his love handles, drinking a Mountain Dew while he jumps into the lake. Wishing I could hold a sweaty bottle and laugh in a bar or on the beach, like those happy youngsters in the beer ads. Hoping that I, too, can share the most tender moments in life while eating fast food. I mean, how come no one wants to sell me one of those cool coffee tables with the refrigerator drawer? I’m not that old, for goodness sake. I’ve got energy. I’ve got tastes. I’m adventurous. I’m interested in change.
But, nope, people my age are an afterthought. Kind of like an antiquated Christmas decoration you don’t want to use anymore, but, since Aunt Jane gave it to you, you have to keep it. Well, I’m still in the box, baby, ready to spend some money and live on the cutting edge. You just have to ask.
Well, with a caveat — don’t ask between noon and 1:30, that’s my nap time. Or, after 9:30 pm, when I start heading off to bed. And, please, not during my shows, that’s sacred time. But, you know, other than that, I’m available.