Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Is 30 The New 50?

I name-checked David Wolfe recently because I've always thought his development psychology approach resonates with many of today's hot issues such as socially-responsible business (unsurprisingly the subject of his upcoming book). While I knew about the classic econometric impacts of the aging population many years ago, it's less than half the story.

The idea that self-actualisation is the predominant worldview characteristic is completely apparent as soon as you have it pointed out to you. It fires the passions of your friends, it fires religion and it must be what's firing the dumb pursuits of those weirdoes with whom you have no intention of interacting.

David Wolfe argues that, due to inevitable neural development, it comes to prominence in the fall season of your life which equates to 38 and over. But, I'm beginning to wonder if it's also a social contagion that might increasingly be affecting younger people who, as GDP per capita grows and living on credit mushrooms, are acquiring material possessions at an earlier age.

They move into new homes that are fully decorated, they fill them with appliances, and they snort at their parents' exhortations to live within their means and save for a rainy day. They also realise earlier that this doesn't bring them happiness and turn to catching dreams, knitting yogurt and regressing in various ways. How do I know this? Well I don't, but what I do know is that not all those aforementioned weirdoes are over 38.

More seriously, I think this trend suggests that marketing aimed at the population bulge has a far more significant chance of also chiming with younger demographics, whereas we know the ubiquitous youth marketing obsession distinctly turns off the older consumer. If correct, that might finally persuade more marketers to change their voice.


Blogger David Wolfe said...

John, you are quite right about the dominance of society by people in middle age and beyond greatly influencing the worldviews and behavior of younger people. I did a series on this phenomenon two years ago starting at

6:36 AM, September 01, 2006  
Anonymous John Grant said...


I think it is later not earlier myself. We settle down much later (marriage, kids, mortgage) if ever. Bly's Sibling Society or in marketing speak middle youth.

Not sure self-actualisation is entirely a lifestage, although I believe Erikson that generativity may well be (a concern for the species, to offset fears of mortality).

Depends what you mean by self-actualising of course, in Maslow's definition I think it is more than saturation/affluenza; lots of people get rich and dont get sick of it; quite the opposite they take it for granted and dont enjoy it like they would have done if they had just got it. Or they fear losing it.

Must check out DW's stuff anyway sounds interesting.

5:04 PM, September 01, 2006  
Blogger john dodds said...

DW - Thanks for the comment -I'll check the references you gave.

JG - I think you'll find alot you like in Ageless Marketing while the new book covers areas that I know are of interest to you. My glib "30 being the new 50" title was a little misleading I think since I was focussing on the acquisition of stuff rather than settling down which I agree is happening later - but, as you will see, DW points to a tendency to increasing inner restlessness as we age.

12:36 AM, September 02, 2006  
Anonymous Ann Handley said...

Good post, John. The flip side of 50 being the new 30 is that our kids get younger, too.

Is 18 the new 8?


10:46 AM, September 04, 2006  

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