All Ages Welcome to greater visibility

3 women in white dresses.

Image source: Adobe Stock/Marc Bordons/Stocksy.

By Brenda Milis

Posted on 10-01-2020

When Adobe Stock launched our 2020 Creative Trends, none of us knew that COVID-19 was around the corner, about to dramatically rearrange our lives and plans for the year. The trend forecast remains relevant, though — just in different ways than we expected.

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One standout example? This year’s visual trend, All Ages Welcome. Through all the big cultural and aesthetic shifts of 2020, this trend has remained pertinent across major industries, popping up in campaigns for healthcare, banking, finance, beauty, wellness, fashion, and beyond. We predict this trend will keep picking up steam.

Why ‘all ages’ matters right now

In recent years, thanks to steady improvements in healthcare and wellness, more people are living longer, healthier lives. One consequence of that is more people stay in the workforce longer and remain interested in staying active — well into what was once considered “older” age. This shift has led to people 50 years and older having more disposable income and continuing to lead vibrant, productive lives much longer than ever before.

Working man.

Image source: Adobe Stock/Hero Images/Hero Images.

The older population is growing. According to the World Health Organization, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12 percent to 22 percent between 2015 and 2050. Thanks to advances in health and the technology that connect us, mature audiences are more active, visible, and relevant in today’s world.

This population has serious economic power. Nielsen reports that consumers 50 and over are “the most valuable generation in the history of marketing.” Since 2015, boomers controlled 70 percent of the country’s disposable income, outspending every other generation by $400 billion annually and providing over 50 percent of U.S. consumption.

Brands naturally want to connect with this generation and tap into that spending power. Up and down the industry spectrum, brands have been increasingly interested in appealing to consumers across GenX and Baby Boomer demographics — and marketers know they must run appealing visuals that represent healthy people in later life to engage older consumers.

Refreshing the picture

So what makes visuals appealing to those older viewers? There are a few elements that come up repeatedly when we talk to Adobe Stock clients across all sectors. The elements that make for contemporary and commercially appealing stock imagery of older people is quite close to representations of all communities and identities: diversity and inclusion.

Men kissing.

Image source: Adobe Stock / Joselito Briones/Stocksy.

According to a survey conducted by the AARP, in the past, stereotypical stock photos have depicted older people as lonely or “needing help”: solitary old folks at home, sedentary scenes, nursing homes and canes, and so on. We know that stereotype isn’t accurate, and it’s not how most active, vibrant, healthy people over 50, 60, or 70 see themselves. There are so many lived experiences across older demographics, and today, marketers are finally getting the picture. What brands are looking for — in addition to depictions of older consumers living full and vibrant lives — is an authentic range of experiences, lifestyles, backgrounds, and identities of older people across all regions of the world.

Group of women taking a group selfie.

Image source: Adobe Stock / Sam Edwards/Caia Image.

In recent years, many brands that used to cater quite narrowly to younger consumers have been widening their scope. In the notoriously youth-obsessed worlds of fashion, beauty, and wellness, we’ve seen some big moves toward greater inclusion from big global brands like Target, L’Oreal, Fenty, and Sephora, as well as boutique brands including Outdoor Voices and Rachel Comey.

COVID-19 and major aesthetic shifts

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a definite impact on how brands are representing people — and how many of us expect to be represented.

Man and woman working together.

Image source: Adobe Stock / Hero Images.

Major industries have made distinct shifts in response to the pandemic — shifts that we can clearly see in their use of lifestyle imagery.

For example, both financial services and healthcare sectors have made pivots to offering more digital services. As a result, we’re seeing more imagery of people 50 years and older using digital devices, performing financial transactions, and a surge of telemedicine imagery: virtual doctor’s visits, or interacting with preventative healthcare services.

Woman watching video on smartphone.

Image source: Adobe Stock / Westend61.

More broadly speaking, since Baby Boomers are more susceptible to serious cases of COVID-19 than younger people, there has been a general increase in demand for imagery reflecting older people living healthy lives while actively staying socially distant. This shift spans across many industries: images of telemedicine for healthcare, virtual visits with family, friends, and colleagues, essential workers delivering food and supplies to their homes.

It’s worth noting, too, that we’re seeing greater marketplace demand for these types of images across all ages — not just 60 and older — but they are particularly important in representing older consumers because of their sensitivities to contracting COVID-19. In general, brands are seeking relatable, authentic ways to depict folks across the age spectrum as we all get comfortable with the not-so-comfortable pandemic-influenced way of life.

Healthcare worker touching elbows with woman

Image source: Adobe Stock / Hero Images.

Depicting older folks engaged in normal daily activities and authentic moments — as opposed to locked in empty rooms or hospital settings — necessarily means showing them interacting with friends and family of all ages, too. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, families are forming close “bubbles” or “quarantine pods” and staying closer to home, and brands are responding by incorporating more extended-family imagery into their campaigns.

At Adobe Stock, we’ve seen a rapid rise in demand for multi-generational family imagery, both in terms of extended family living together in “quarantine pods” in the earliest stages of the health pandemic, as well as representing families’ first in-person visits with the older family members they have been missing during quarantine. Family life may look a bit different in pandemic times, but the intimate moments between family members remain, and for many, those moments feel even more important.

Dive deeper into the visual trend with the Adobe Stock All Ages Welcome curated gallery.

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Topics: Trends & Research, Creativity, Insights & Inspiration, Media & Entertainment, Creative Cloud,

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