How Old Are You? New research on consumers’ “Perceived Age” may change the way that Cumbrian companies market their products and services to all their customers.
Research recently published by market research company The Big Window in partnership with BBC Audiences has revealed some interesting differences between peoples’ Perceived Age and their Actual Age.
The research was the result of a study by the BBC on the topic of age and how young and old people are portrayed in the media. Using a series of questions examining peoples’ looks, behaviours, feelings, physical energy and mental energy, a model was finally developed that predicted a person’s “Perceived Age” rather than their actual true age.
Over 3,000 respondents in two waves of research finally revealed that in general people feel younger than they actually are. This was to be expected, but what surprised the research teams was the extent of the gap between actual age and perceived age.
The chart shows that people typically feel slightly older than they are until they hit 30. After that they start to feel younger – and then increasingly so. By the time they reach their early 70s, consumers actually feel in their mid-to-late 50s. Subsequent analysis of both waves of the study suggests that as people approach their mid-70s the gap between perceived age and actual age starts to lessen – possibly as physical and mental health-related problems emerge.
Using this data the client, in this instance the BBC, were able to work out which programmes appealed to which age groups, and whether their audiences could be described as young or old at heart, according to their perceived age profile. The research pointed to big programmes on the mainstream channels – programmes such as EastEnders, I’m a Celebrity, Doctor Who, The X Factor and Harry Hill- all tended to appeal to people who, on balance, feel younger at heart – perhaps reflecting the fact that TV in general has a “younger” appeal whatever the actual ages of the audience.
Certainly from a Business to Consumer marketing perspective we have lots to learn as “perceived age” will almost certainly apply across the regions including of course Cumbria. It’s a consumer mindset already apparent in local products such as Carlisle Living magazine whose primary target audience is predominantly female, 18-25 years of age whilst the actual “consumers” of the magazine are to be found in the 25-40 age groups – although still largely female. Similar examples can also be witnessed with the demand for tickets across a wide demographic in Carlisle for Radio 1’s Big Weekend, the increase in the popularity of Zumba classes for the 25 -40 age groups , video-gaming and the rise of technologies originally targeting a younger consumer for instance Wii; and of course certain social networking sites such Facebook, Twitter etc. originally designed for the teens and now adopted across a much older age profile.
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