MARKETING TO MEN: SPORTING MALES - Sport and news on the net are alternatives to traditional media for targeting fortysomethings, Richard Cook writes

Youth, as everyone knows, is wasted on the young. Fortunately, and increasingly it seems, the 44- to 55-year-old age group is intent on picking up this carelessly discarded mantle. They want to be the ones to misbehave.

Youth, as everyone knows, is wasted on the young. Fortunately, and

increasingly it seems, the 44- to 55-year-old age group is intent on

picking up this carelessly discarded mantle. They want to be the ones to


They want to travel, they want to ride powerful motorbikes and nowadays

they want to follow the Test Match - not be-slippered in front of the

telly but sipping latte at a cyber-cafe. Most of all, though, they want

to spend. And advertisers who historically haven’t had to work that hard

to reach a formerly sedentary, wholly predictable group, are suddenly

finding they have to be a whole lot more lateral in their media


At the same time, reaching this audience through the traditional media

channels of TV sport and newspapers has always been an expensive

practice, the cost of which continues to spiral upwards. ’It’s true that

buying into sports programming has got much more expensive on ITV in

recent years, which might encourage buyers to look at other ways of

targeting this particular age group,’ explains Paul van Barthold,

commercial director at MediaCom TMB.

’But against that should be set the rise of Sky Sports, which offers the

sort of discrete targeting opportunity that buyers want. There isn’t the

same wastage as there is on ITV and, naturally, the cost - although high

compared to the average cost on Sky - is low compared to ITV. You’re not

getting the same size of audience you got on ITV but there is very

little wastage.’

Although men in their 40s and 50s are still get-at-able through sports,

the media planner and buyer needs to appreciate that sports content is

delivered through a growing range of media including the internet.

MediaCom TMB, for example, uses Sky extensively and successfully for

Ronseal. It’s also true that men are looking to the web for serious

information and services, previously the domain of the newspaper and the

bank manager.

This is an age group which is difficult to pin down, so all options are

worth considering. MediaVest’s joint managing director, Robert Ray,

says: ’There is so much difference in attitude, outlook and life

situation in that particular age group. Broadly, of course, it is a

hugely desirable market but it’s also a group that has fragmented so

much, particularly over the past couple of decades. It’s worth

remembering that this is also an age group that grew up with punk and

which now has a high degree of media sophistication and awareness.’

Ray points out that TGI data shows this group to be high spenders but,

crucially, and unlike older consumers, they are still not completely set

in their ways, they are still the fickle, brand-aware consumers

advertisers covet. Better, they are in the market for luxury goods.

Planners would traditionally buy into sport on ITV to reach them and use

the Daily Telegraph or, for slightly more downmarket constituents, the

Daily Mail. ’There are so many more options nowadays,’ Ray adds. ’The

key is to find territories of interests that you can mine. That might

mean travel shows and meaty dramas as well as sports.

’Computer penetration is very high in this group. They are the

second-fastest growing group of internet users after students and the

way they use the net is very adventurous - they are big consumers of

financial services, for example.’

An influential Ernst & Young survey conducted in the US earlier this

year offers the clearest analysis yet of the startling way this

demographic interacts with new media. In a profile of the on-line

shopper, the consultancy giant found that 68 per cent of fortysomethings

were already online buyers, making this the highest penetration of any

age group. They were, in addition and as might be expected, better

educated and wealthier than the average online consumer, with a

staggering 40 per cent of the US sample earning in excess of pounds

50,000 a year.

These findings were corroborated by a Mintel Survey in the UK, published

in July, which found that the fortysomething demographic had the

second-highest level of computer access.

’It’s surprising how much this group has taken to new media, but often

they have access to a computer both at work and at home,’ Motive’s

executive director, Iain Jacob, says. ’And sites like Cricinfo, which is

a top ten site in terms of the number of hits, or the Electronic

Telegraph site are all good ways of hitting them. Having said that,

ITV’s audience for its big dramas, as much as for sport, news and

documentaries, remains the simplest way of targeting this group, and for

advertisers they are well worth trying to reach. They are weighted in

favour of ABC1s, they have disposable income, and they really want to

dispose of it.’

Nor has the new-media potential of this group been ignored by the

market. The online agency, Double Click, suggests sites such as PA News,

CBS Sports and the new electronic share-dealing services such as

schwab-europe or stocktrade as particularly apposite sites. In

September, these were augmented by a new lifestyle-oriented website

aimed precisely at these same 800,000-plus UK over-45s who already surf

the net. At the moment this newcomer,, is canvassing men of

this age group to help get the right editorial tone for the site.

’There certainly has been a lot of hype about forty- and fiftysomethings

and the internet, the so-called silver surfer market,’ agrees Paul

Longhurst, managing director at the new-media consultancy, Quantum. ’And

I think that these people will increasingly follow the young into

regarding the internet as a central part of their lives, but as far as

things stand now, it has definitely been hyped too much. ITV has an

older profile generally and is much the easiest way of targeting this


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