Pointing to a significant missed opportunity for marketers, a large swath of diehard radio listeners feel they are being ignored by advertisers. Nearly 8 out of 10 U.S. adults 50 and older (77%) feel they are being overlooked by advertisers, according to a new study by the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB). What’s more, half of this demo (49%) avoids brands that actively ignore them. It is a group that accounts for more than $3.2 trillion in total annual expenditures and 41% of total U.S. consumer spending.

There is no age segment that spends more time with radio than adults aged 50-64, according to Nielsen’s Q3 Total Audience Report. The sector spends 18% of their media day with radio, clocking in at 2 hours, 6 minutes, higher than any other age group.

While many advertisers zero in on Millennials and Generation Z, there are currently 114 million adults over the age of 50, comprising one-third of the population. It also accounts for 45% of the adult population 18 and older. By 2020, the population of adults over 50 will have doubled in size since 1980, reflecting an increase of 60 million people. There will be 42 million more adults over 50 than those 18-34 by 2020. And by 2030, that gap will increase to more than 55 million.

The new study, entitled “The Age of Opportunity: Understanding The Consumer Value of Adults 50,” comes from the VAB, the trade group that advocates on behalf of TV networks and cable companies, including CBS, Disney/ABC, NBCUniversal, BET and Comcast Spotlight. But the findings are obviously as relevant to radio operators, especially those that deal in formats that attract large 50+ contingents, such as news/talk, soft AC, classic hits, classic rock and urban AC.

Wallets Still Up For Grabs

“There are more adults over 50 than millennials actively in the market for new goods and services, indicating their wallets are still up for grabs,” the report observes. Positioned as a guide for marketers, “The Age of Opportunity” highlights key ad categories where adults 50+ wield outsized buying clout. On average, older adults are responsible for 40% of the spending across top consumer categories, including:

  • $195.5 billion (37%) on vehicles
  • $159.1 billion (36%) on food away from home
  • $110.2 billion (43%) on household furnishings and equipment
  • $33.9 billion (35%) on entertainment fees and admissions
  • $29.9 billion (41%) on alcohol

The VAB research also shows how lifestyle choices are impacting this population segment’s buying power. Nearly half of adults over 50 (46%) are choosing to work later in life and now account for 34% of the U.S. workforce. The number of employed people 50+ has also increased 21% since 2008. They have significant spending power, much greater than any other major age group, including Millennials. This audience’s spending profile nearly mirrors that of adults 18-34 as heavy purchasers in many product categories, due to their continued workplace income and enjoyment of an active lifestyle.

In many ways, older adults are more active than older millennials (25-34 year-olds), spending 56% more time participating in leisure activities and sports. The study also documents how the increasing adoption of technology presents a greater opportunity for advertisers to reach adults 50+ across a variety of devices.

“The spending power of those over age 50 is immense and will continue to grow in future years, presenting an incredible opportunity for marketers," said Marianne Vita, VAB's VP, Strategic Insights. "Brand advertisers who ignore this audience, which totals over one-third of the U.S. population and makes over $3.2 trillion in yearly purchases, do so at their own peril."