Nielsen Study Debunks Stereotypical Marketing Practices Geared Towards Seniors


BERKELEY, CALIF. (September 6, 2012) – A new report from Nielsen NeuroFocus, a global leader in neurological testing for consumer research, reveals that many stereotypical marketing practices aimed at reaching men and women over the age of 60 may not be as effective as previously assumed. Nielsen NeuroFocus found that mature brains respond differently to marketing messages than do younger brains. Mature brains also have a broader attention span and are more emotionally balanced. New research in the field of neuroscience refutes the traditional belief that the older brain cannot learn and adapt. Current research shows how the older brain retains plasticity, or the ability to change as a result of experience, even at late stages of life.

This is good news for Boomers, with fresh insights based on research from consumer neuroscience, a relatively new tool for marketers. These added insights will help brands and marketing executives better understand the most effective way to reach this key demographic.

Additional findings and prescriptions include:

Mature brains tend to have better control over their emotions, and attend more to positive messages in general, as well as in advertising. According to Nielsen NeuroFocus, marketers should emphasize the upbeat in messaging, and acknowledge what Boomers will gain, not what they will lose.

While it’s true that older brains may be slower, they are also shrewder. The Boomer brain doesn’t want to feel old or be treated as old. Marketers should avoid stereotypes and steer clear of messaging that involves old people, and vacuously smiling couples. Boomers want to be spoken to intelligently and be recognized for who they are.

Although mature brains occasionally struggle with recalling information at the tip of their tongues, they actually have broader attention spans than that of their younger counterparts, allowing them to absorb more nuanced messaging. Marketers can help the Boomer brain by creating mnemonic triggers for their brand or product to make them easier to recall.

Boomer brains process information differently from younger brains. The Boomer brain may ignore messages and images that are too cluttered, or scene changes that are too rapid. While the messaging can be complex, the delivery and format should be simpler than for the young brain.

Baby Boomers are a segment often overlooked by Madison Avenue, yet they continue to hold strong and influential purchasing power. According to the latest statistics, Boomers are on track to spend $7 billion online this year alone. By understanding what triggers certain emotions with this consumer group, marketers can adapt their messaging in order to communicate more effectively with the Boomer brain.

Further information about Nielsen NeuroFocus can be found at the company’s website at

About The Nielsen Company

The Nielsen Company is a global information and media company with leading market positions in marketing information (ACNielsen), media information (Nielsen Media Research), online intelligence (NetRatings and BuzzMetrics), mobile measurement, trade shows and business publications (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek). The privately held company is active in more than 100 countries, with headquarters in Haarlem, the Netherlands, and New York, USA. For more information, please visit

About Nielsen NeuroFocus

Nielsen NeuroFocus is the market leader in bringing neuroscience to the world of advertising, messaging, packaging, and product development. NeuroFocus clients include Fortune 100 companies across consumer package goods, food and beverage, financial services, automotive, and retail sectors. NeuroFocus clients also include major companies in the TV and Motion Picture industries. NeuroFocus leverages academic expertise in neuroscience and marketing from U.C. Berkeley, MIT, Harvard, and the Hebrew University. For more information, please visit



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