The Young and the Restless of the Research Industry
The average age of someone working in advertising has remained around 33 since 2009, according to a YouGov research. The area of marketing and research is roughly in the same situation, with professionals being younger and younger.
Obtaining a job in market research, in advertising or in other similar fields after the age of 35-40 (even 30 if I’m perfectly honest) is becoming increasingly difficult. You are either considered to be too old or overqualified. You are either told, in a very diplomatic and politically correct manner, that the company is “going in a different direction”, or, directly, that you are overqualified, too old for a position where youth is the main target / audience, and that your financial expectations exceed their limits. Mostly though, a diplomatic and very vague refuse is the only answer you receive.
On one hand, I can understand (to an extent) the reasoning behind this way of thinking. Companies prefer to employ young people as, let’s be honest, they can pay them less and train them to be exactly as needed, working 10-12 hours per day and doing whatever is needed for the benefit of the company. And let’s face it, everyone (from employer to employee) is aware of the fact that for almost any job, there are lots of young people who would do anything to get it.
On the other hand, I do not agree with this manner of reasoning. First of all from an emotional point of view. It is not fair to refuse someone who wants to work, someone who has experience in the specific field needed, only because of the age. It is discrimination. Even worse, it is absolutely cruel to fire someone with 10-20 years experience just because that person has reached 40 years old and there are younger people that can be paid less.
But what is fair and what is not fair is not the subject of this article. Besides the (un)fairness there are also rational reasons that contradict the above mentioned modus operandi.
First, the world’s population is getting older, as “the number of older persons has more than tripled since 1950 and will almost triple again by 2050”. Also, the life expectancy has more than doubled in the last century. In addition to this pattern, let’s not forget that people increase their purchasing power with age (e.g. the average new car buyer is 56 years old). Thus, one can easily see that young people should not be the only relevant target for marketeers and advertisers; more than this, the elders will become a more and more relevant target in the future, as the population gets older and older.
Second and in strong connection with the first, advertising and marketing need people with work and life experience to design and create products, services, ads and so on for the population of today and tomorrow. Not only for the young and restless, but for the mature and sophisticated. Someone with 20 years experience in advertising will be able to communicate to this mature target, while a 20 years old advertising professional will probably find it difficult to do the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not pledging against young professionals. The market needs them, for their vibe, their creativity, their power of innovation, their ability to communicate to their peers… And the list goes on and on. But what I do want to emphasize is that the market also needs the mature professionals, the ones with a vast experience, at work and in life in general. The ones who maybe don’t know anymore the best way to communicate to an 18 y.o., but know everything else.
Remember, some good things only come with age!
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