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Intelligence: McCann Worldgroup Research Reveals That We’re at a Pivotal Moment in History Where Traditional Age Norms Are No Longer True

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Age-based demographic segmentation and targeting is a method that has always been used. However, a new global study released by McCann Worldgroup finds that age-based assumptions about people’s attitudes and behavior are becoming increasingly unreliable. In fact, these traditional suppositions themselves are aging out in their relevance throughout all regions of the world.

Age has become just a number indeed as it is increasingly a less reliable predictor of style and health. Even the subject of “aging” itself, traditionally viewed as a conversational topic primarily relevant to the 65+ audience, is one where age-based assumptions don’t hold.  As uncovered and detailed in McCann Worldgroup’s new “Truth About Age” study, people across the age spectrum are not adhering to the expectations traditionally associated with their life stage. In fact, two-thirds of people in their 70s believe “you’re never too old to casually date” while it’s young people in their 20s who fear death the most.


In the Philippines, 63% of the 20-somethings respondent fear death than the global average of 57%. The 20 plus years old respondents said that for them, death feels like the end of everything good in life when they’re just getting started.

These findingswhich emphasize the importance in brand marketing of understanding people fully as human individuals rather than as predictable members of a demographic categorywere among many in a new worldwide study conducted by McCann Truth Central, McCann Worldgroup’s global intelligence unit. The large-scale “Truth About Age” study surveyed nearly 24,000 people, aged 20 through 70, across 28 markets*, supplemented by qualitative research in 36 markets* around the globe.

“We’re at a pivotal moment in human history, where traditional age norms are being challenged across every age group and marketers must respond to this new reality,” said Suzanne Powers, Global Chief Strategy Officer, McCann Worldgroup. “It’s time to rethink the playbook with regards to the way brands approach age across the spectrum – not just when it comes to marketing to ‘seniors’ – so they can play a more meaningful role in people’s lives at every life stage.”

“This piece of research revealed that brands in any category can play a role in helping people age well. While there is some truth behind age stereotypes, this study shows that bigger opportunities await brands that choose to see people beyond the number,” shared Earl Javier, Strategy Director of McCann Worldgroup Philippines.

Earl Javier, McCann Worldgroup Philippines Strategy Director

McCann Worldgroup Philippines shared some insights from the study on October 10, 2019 with keynote presenter Ting Joson sharing her own norm-defying story. As a fitness instructor and triathlon runner at 55 years old, she emphasized one important thing about the concept of aging: “Aging does not equate to being frail.” And this is solidified in her very active lifestyle as a senior instructor at Saddle Row, adding to her long and impressive list of activities.

Ting Joson

To help guide marketers as they rethink age-led demographics, McCann is introducing a new Age Marketing Playbook based on the following four principles:

1) Start young: Surprisingly, the study found that people who most feared death were in their 20s, and people who worried least about aging were in their 70s. Smart brands will find ways of reframing the age conversation much earlier.

2) Celebrate the gains: In the second half of life, much of the aging narrative is oriented around loss, yet our data suggests there is much to gain and celebrate. Brands have the opportunity to rewrite the narrative by developing new language and imagery to connect not just with the aging population but, with people of all age groups.

3) Go beyond the number: Age is becoming a less useful predictor of behaviors and attitudes so the traditional approach to targeting and segmentation must be reimagined. Brands need to interrogate their own consumer segmentations in new ways to ensure that they are consistently going beyond the ‘number’.

4) Promote intergenerational connections: Overall, there is one consistent theme that transcends markets when it comes to aging well; spending time with people of different ages. The data shows that the old consistently misunderstand the young and vice versa. There is a rich opportunity for brands to drive a dialogue between the generations and co-create an age-positive future.

This study is one of our largest studies to date: 28 quantitative markets with nearly 24,000 respondents globally (Canada, US, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Sweden, Norway, UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Denmark, Hungary, Germany, Turkey, Lebanon, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, China, Japan, Philippines, Australia) and 36 qualitative markets (Canada, US, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Sweden, Denmark, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Latvia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Nigeria, South Africa, Russia, South Korea, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Australia).

Photography by Jether Dane Guadalupe


About McCann Truth Central

McCann Truth Central is McCann’s global intelligence unit, with representation in more than 100 countries around the world. The group is dedicated to uncovering human truths to help brands make their mark in the world. For more about Truth Central or to access Truth Studies, visit: https://www.mccannworldgroup.com/about/truth

About McCann Worldgroup

McCann Worldgroup, part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG), is a leading global marketing services company with over 20,000 employees in more than 100 countries, comprising McCann Erickson (advertising), MRM//McCann (digital marketing/relationship management), Momentum Worldwide (total brand experience), McCann Health (professional/dtc communications), CRAFT (global adaptation and production), Weber Shandwick (public relations), FutureBrand (consulting/design), and PMK-BNC (entertainment/brand/popular culture.

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