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9th Annual Pan-Pacific Market Guide

9 Apr, 2010 By: Doug McPherson Response

Australia’s population is pretty old — and getting older. DR marketers with the right recipe of maket, message and media just might be able to turn silver into gold.

Welcome to ‘Agestralia’

No one’s getting any younger. And that goes for the populations of countries, too. It’s just a well-known little fact that occasionally blips the radar screen then fades way. But in Australia, aging is a topic that, well, never seems to grow old.

The numbers run like this: of the 22 million Australians, nearly 9 million are older than 45. During the past two decades, the median age has increased from 31.8 years to 36.9 years. Furthermore, during the past 35 years, those 65 and older in New South Wales (Australia’s most populous area), jumped from 8.9 percent to 14 percent of the population. Plus, life expectancy during that same span rose 10.5 years for men and 8.5 years for women.

Australians, it seems, have something against dying.

Government officials there have said all that the nation’s aging will likely pose significant issues in the areas of healthcare, the labor pool and housing.

The issue is so troublesome that a group called the Aged and Community Services Australia, an organization in Melbourne that oversees care to more than 700,000 seniors, has launched a campaign dubbed, “Can’t Do It Without You.” It includes a spot that features Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. As the spot runs, Rudd ages 35 years in 30 seconds. The goal: remind Australians of their aging population and to recruit more elder-care workers.

The voice over reads: “Mr. Rudd, more than a million elderly Australians are now cared for by aged-care professionals. And in just 20 years another million more of us will need looking after. Now is the time for all of Australia to get behind our aged-care workforce. Because none of us is getting any younger. Show your support at We can’t do it without you.” (You can view the spot at

Geoff De Weaver knows about the aging issue. He’s worked in DRTV in Australia and New Zealand, and is now the chief executive officer of Greenwich Brand + Design LLC, a brand consulting and design firm in Stamford, Conn.

“American marketers should think aging baby boomers,” De Weaver says. “Australia’s senior population … is a great target for U.S. direct marketers [and] for companies that sell the kinds of products that help seniors to be self-sufficient and to stay in their homes longer.”

Not surprisingly, De Weaver says the big players in DRTV in Australia are the major insurance companies with funeral insurance and term insurance products, followed by banks, telecommunication companies and travel companies.

And De Weaver says Australia didn’t go into a recession last year so, “the market has been strong. However, more focused consumer spending, especially in the retail sector, has been on more practical things and less indulgent or luxury products.”

Mining Silver

To better mine this silver(-haired) market, Gill Walker, managing director of Evergreen Advertising & Marketing, a company in Melbourne that helps marketers reach seniors, shares some of the particulars of seniors in Australia and New Zealand. “First, know that they do use multiple media channels,” Walker says. “Remember the multiplier effect: response rates skyrocket when at least to two to three media are used in one campaign burst. Their thirst for knowledge and information has not diminished.”

Incidentally, Walker says travel is their top hobby. She adds that seniors are becoming more selective in what they watch, read and listen to. ”We’ve seen a dramatic increase in special interest programming and publications,” Walker contends.

But the older generation has also accepted digital media. And for those who haven’t, they’re about to get it spoon fed to them. The Australian government has just launched a $15 million initiative called “Broadband for Seniors,” which will install 2,000 internet kiosks during the next three years in community centers and clubs where seniors gather. The kiosks are free to use and will feature computers, Internet connections and training.

The idea behind the push? The government wants older Australians to use the Internet to stay in touch with family and friends and to access information and services that might help them.

As for marketing on the Internet, Walker says paid and organic searches are mandatory. “It’s your product’s electronic front door,” she contends.

One company is getting creative with social media. Dominic Powers, senior vice president of Asia Pacific for Epsilon, a direct marketing services company based in Dallas, tapped social media for, an online travel Web site with an office in Australia. Epsilon developed an application for Facebook that lets consumers track the latest deals for flights and hotels, then click through to Zuji’s site to book them. “The application leverages the data that we use for the search-based offer E-mails we manage for,” Powers says.

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