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The future's grey - but it's not cloudy

One of the fundamentals of marketing is to go where the money is. Money plus wants equals sales. Needs don't come into it. After all, in Blair's Britain almost everyone needs a car, but only those with money can afford it. And increasingly the 'grey market' - the over-50s - is where the money is. But the industry is better at talking about targeting than doing it. Marketing to everyone, it focuses on no one. Such scattergun marketing could miss out on one of the most important groups of homeowners.

According to forecasts by the Office for National Statistics, there will be 5 million more people in Britain by 2025. But the average age will rise from 38.8 to 42.6 years, and by 2011, those over the state pension age will number 11.9 million. By 2040, official predictions have the number as above 16 million.

With generally healthier lifestyles and medical advances not only has life expectancy increased but quality of life is, on the whole, better than it was 20 years ago. So much so that rumours that the government may be increasing state pension age to 70 may not be unfounded. Over-50s are far more active and seem much 'younger' than their parents ever were - and this includes their spending habits.

Those born in the 'baby boom' of the post-war 1950's are one of the developed world's most significant groups of consumers. Teenagers in the 1960's, thirty-something professionals in the 1980's they are now turning 50. These 'baby boomers' will probably have higher disposable incomes than ever. With the mortgage paid, and their children grown up and (hopefully!) independent, they are free to spend as they please.

But those over 50 are typically ignored by marketers and advertising companies. Dominated by young people who want to market to other young people, it is difficult to convince advertising firms that it's worthwhile pitching to middle-aged or old people.

Experts believe that the ageing population will change the face of marketing -targeting over-50s could become the norm, rather than the exception. This is particularly relevant for home improvements and the 'replacing the replacements' market.

The 'grey market' is a large slice of most window companies' business. But is your marketing focused on getting more of this quality growth market?

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