NBCU Says Old Is the New Young

NBC Universal wants advertisers to know that when it comes to consumer spending based on what they see in television ads, the 55-64 demo is the new 18-34 — or it’s just as important as that younger demo.

NBCU on Tuesday gave the media a sneak peek at a major presentation it will make on Thursday to its advertisers, their media agencies and Nielsen officials. The presentation will offer data showing that the adult 55-64 demo is as vibrant as younger demos in ad spending, and should be targeted (and not ignored) when television marketing plans are created.

Allen Wurtzel, president of research and media development at NBCU, presented evidence from assorted sources — including one-on-one interviews with adults in the demo — that dispel myths about how adults 55-64 respond to advertising and spend as consumers.

Wurtzel said the demo, which he’s labeled “AlphaBoomers,” “has been largely ignored by advertisers and marketers.”

“Every seven seconds someone turns 55 and once they do, they are eliminated from the highest-end Nielsen demo measurement: 25-54,” Wurtzel said. “It is the fastest-growing demo group in the country and now numbers 35 million people that account for close to $2 trillion in annual spending.”

Wurtzel said NBC research and a survey it commissioned of people in the 55-64 demo counters common perceptions that they make less of an income and spend less on advertised products; are technophobic and brand loyal, and therefore, cannot be motivated to switch brands.

“Our goal is to raise a discussion among CMOs at the various companies and to get Nielsen to begin offering ratings data for the 55-64 demo,” Wurtzel said. “They have the data. It’s just a matter of creating the software and adding staff to distribute it.”

Wurtzel said the current Nielsen age demo ratings groups, which stop at 54, “were invented 50 years ago and are outdated.”

In his preliminary discussions with Nielsen, he said that its executives have been “very supportive,” but such a change would have to be accepted by the entire industry. Wurtzel went on to say that the goal of creating the new demo as part of industry currency is not to impact program development to people in that age group, but to get advertisers to realize that people in that demo make buying decisions similar to younger demos.

He cited the broadcast network evening news telecasts during which advertisers often promote pharmaceuticals and high-end autos and not categories that are typically thought of as appealing to younger demos.

Wurtzel said research shows that people in the 55-64 demo are spending as much on home improvement products as the younger demos and “maybe home improvement chains should be advertising on the nightly news.”

NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker said he’s hoping the findings will motivate tech companies like Apple, Droid and Bing — which are not advertising on CNBC news programs because they are older-skewing — will start doing so.

“What we’d like to see is these companies and their agencies start targeting AlphaBoomers as much as they do the 18-34 demo,” Zucker said, acknowledging that the presentation could also help other networks’ newscasts.

Research in the NBCU presentation shows that AlphaBoomers have a median household income of $69,000, dwarfing that of those under 25 ($27,000), 25-34 ($58,000) and close to those 35-44 ($75,000).
 
Other findings include:

 • AphaBoomers spend more on home improvement products, home furnishing, large appliances, beauty and cosmetics and casual dining than adults 18-49.

 • A similar percentage of AlphaBoomers have high-definition TVs, use DVRs and broadband as adults 18-34.

 • 70 percent of AlphaBoomers buy at least one product a month online.

 • 59 percent of AlphaBoomers send text messages via their cell phones.

“This is not something that is just going to affect NBCU,” Wurtzel said. “Down the road as more people leave the 25-54 demo, it will affect every network.”