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Guest Opinion: Charles Glover, 'A market you can't afford to ignore'

'Last spring, AM reported the results of research into selling cars to the over-50s – they felt neglected and ignored by retailers and manufacturers, despite having more money to spend than all other consumer groups put together.

A year has now passed and I'd wager the industry still has a number of lessons to learn about the 'grey' market – for instance, the majority of its £400m television advertising campaigns still target younger buyers.

The phenomenal spending power of the over- 50s can't be ignored for much longer. Last year they spent their way through £145bn of disposable income, currently account for up to two-thirds of all car sales and dominate the market for top-of-the-range vehicles.

Nearly 44% of Britain's adults are over 50, and in 20 years' time more than half the population is expected to fall into that category. To boost its performance in this market, the automotive industry clearly has some important rules to follow.

First, it's crucial to fully understands the over-50s. The UK's seven million 'baby boomers' were around at the dawn of the technology explosion in the 1960s, created youth culture and the idea of brands – they've since grown through more decades of change than any other generation. They must not be patronised.

They are also especially difficult to address through creative marketing – their car purchases are triggered by value and benefits, rather than brand and image. The automotive industry must use crystal clear marketing that focuses on value for money. This means plain old competitive pricing in marketing material, for instance.

Promoting the level of aftersales care is also a must. More than any other age group, the over-50s are concerned about the level of security they're offered. Finally, the over-50s do more research on cars than anyone else and nearly half do it online. Not being able to speak to knowledge-able staff drives them up the wall.'

Charles Glover, managing director, Dig For Fire e-consultancy

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