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The Graying of America Affects Advertising
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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America is getting older. According to a demographer from the Brookings institution, the U.S. had never had a state that had a median age over 40. The closest at the time was West Virginia in 2010, with a median age of 38.9 years old. That record was broken, by several states, according to this past Census study. West Virginia's 2010 median age was 41.3, which wasn't the oldest.

As Americans age, we have all seen media usage change too. Some usage changed in the way we expected; other usage did not.

For example, who would have thought that in 2012, the median age of social networks and communities is 36.9 years old? The world was shocked in 2010–2011 when the fastest-growing population on Facebook was those 40+, and that there is barely a young one in sight on LinkedIn (with the median age of 44). 

As for the young ones of America, the face of the country is changing. No, we're not "losing our traditional values," but values are indeed changing. The youth of America leans Hispanic. Americans are marrying later. More households are either dual-income or have the woman of the household as the main breadwinner.

Advertising is reflecting what we see.

On TV, we see more commercials with single-parent households, or mixed-raced couples. More money is being poured into radio and Out-of-Home advertising because the middle-aged population seems to always be on the go. The advertising we see has been more conservatively themed.

Or "less creative," as the industry (with us included) has chimed.

It is important to recognize how demographics affects advertising. Yes, as many professionals in this craft would say, "You are only as old as you feel," but the facts remain that when one enters into a different phase of their life-cycle, different priorities rise to the forefront. And there's nothing wrong with that.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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