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Old is the new young

September 12, 2010

Now more than ever, trends ignited amongst the hipsters of our generation are being appropriated by older adults. Fixed gear and city bikes, ubiquitous on Brooklyn, East London, and Tokyo streets, are according to sales figures the new sign of a midlife crisis. According to a Mintel report family-men ages 35-45 are the demographic pushing bike sales through the roof. In social media, a recent Pew Internet study found that social networking site usage among people 50 and older has nearly doubled in the past year. This growth rate is far more significant than amongst the younger demographic in the same period. The results are summarized with great graphics here.

Is our digital age blurring expectations about the old and the young? Will there be a time when, thanks to technology and health care advances, there will be only a handful of characteristics dividing people from different generations? And does this mean that brands can more easily target a broader range of people, since more consumers of different ages share the same behaviour?

It’s especially interesting in light of a recent New York times article which chronicles a new developmental stage in the human life cycle, between being a teenager and a fully fledged adult, called ‘emerging adulthood’. With people in their 20’s taking longer to adopt the traditional signs of responsibility – jobs, marriage, children, etc – and older adults similarly acting in harmony with youth culture, no matter what generation you belong to, people are breaking the norms of their age-group and converging around a shared set of behaviours.

Image from Hearts like Ours blog here.

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