Misconceptions about our aging population abound. As Ashton Applewhite proves in This Chair Rocks—her celebrated anti-ageism manifesto—and her mainstage TED Talk, which garnered a standing ovation and over 1.2 million views, we barely know the aging demographic; they’re a consumer group far more capable, happy, and excited than socially constructed biases give them credit for.
Aging is not a disease. Older people aren’t only buying things to cure it, solve it or stop it. The aging population is in fact “an unprecedented opportunity to tap into the social capital of millions more healthy, well education adults than ever before in human history.”
Though “olders” as Applewhite refers to them, can be their own worst enemy, internalizing ageism by the same processes as any other ‘ism’ is internalized, marketers also just don’t bother to collect data on this unexamined demographic. “Those marketing checklists,” says Applewhite, “with boxes from 18-23, 23-33, and then they stop at 65, as though everyone over 65 buys the same stuff and does the same things,” are a dated way to understand a group that is living longer and better than ever before.
The benefits of addressing ageism will be felt across almost every demographic and every industry, as Applewhite explains below in her latest keynote at the United Nations: