Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 3.13.39 PMIt’s a familiar refrain in reporting on media companies. Such and such program performed well “amongst the coveted 18-34 demographic.” And who could argue that young, vital consumers with their best earning years ahead of them are a choice target for marketing?

But as a great piece in Saturday’s New York Post points out, this approach is short-sighted at best. It’s older Americans whose numbers are growing and who have the most money to spend.

That said, marketers spend only about 5% of their ad budgets on viewers over 50, according to the senior-marketing firm Coming of Age. And Americans 50 and up buy nearly half of all consumer packaged goods

But as baby boomers age they are constituting an ever increasing piece of the American demographic pie. There are now more Americans age 65 and older than at any other time in U.S. history. Yet again and again, marketers seem not to recognize the buying power of this group. Kyle Smith asks in The New York Post:

So what exactly is the point of all of the youth-targeted culture and advertising? The marketers are like an army of hungry desperadoes fighting over one tubercular chicken without noticing that behind them a herd of healthy cattle is grazing quietly.

It’s something that we think about a lot here at the Altitude Group. With blockbuster pop stations like AMP Radio, B96 and 923Now, nobody speaks to younger Americans with as much local impact as we do. But with news, music and sports assets catering to people across the demographic spectrum we also recognize the enormous buying power of all Americans regardless of age.

The New York Post sums it up thusly:

Taco Bell gets it: Its “Viva Young” Super Bowl commercial earlier this year showed old folks led by an 87-year-old wild child sneaking out of assisted living for some unassisted living it up — partying, pranking, getting tattoos, general debauchery. Young people loved the ad. Old people loved it. It was the top-rated commercial of the entire evening, according to a TiVo survey. And no, burritos didn’t suddenly become as uncool as Dentu-Creme.