New research calls out unconscious age bias as Boomers push back against offensive labels and aging stereotypes

HomeEquity Bank eschews labels to smash age-related stigma, and portray Boomers exactly how they view themselves – as positive, adventurous and capable!

TORONTO, February 27, 2019 – Recent marketing campaigns are the latest example of how companies and brands are pushing boundaries and facing complex social issues head-on in an attempt to connect with consumers. But while marketers are making important progress in reducing gender and ethnicity bias, age stereotypes are stubbornly pervasive. Boomers and aging populations are either ignored or portrayed as helpless, frail or fumbling – tired typecasts that are inaccurate and considered offensive based on how this demographic views itself today.

Now, compelling new research from HomeEquity Bank providers of the CHIP Reverse Mortgage® in partnership with neuroscience research firm Brainsights and ad agency Zulu Alpha Kilo, proves that Boomers’ unconscious brains show significantly greater levels of attention, emotional resonance and memorability in response to advertising that avoids labels and portrays the demographic in a positive way.  And a recent IPSOS survey (November 2018) confirmed stereotypical labels to describe older adults are equally out of line with how Boomers see themselves, with nearly 80 per cent of older Canadians 55+  reporting they don’t want to be called ‘seniors’.  In fact nearly 30 per cent preferred no label at all!

“Today’s Boomers are living longer, they are healthier and have more empowered lives than in the past.  Naturally they respond more positively to messages that reflect a more contemporary lifestyle,” said Yvonne Ziomecki, Executive Vice President of HomeEquity Bank. “They don’t see themselves as helpless or frail and certainly don’t want to be reminded of this stereotype. This new research proves something that HomeEquity Bank has known all along – that Boomers see themselves as a positive force with wisdom to be valued as they make informed decisions to manage their retirement in an empowered way.”

Brainsights researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to analyze the unconscious brain activity of more than 300 Canadians, evenly divided between Boomers (those aged 55 or older) and those younger than 55. Participants were shown a variety of video content, including advertising from HomeEquity Bank, in addition to movie trailers, news clips and holiday advertising. Across the board, participants showed greater levels of attention, connection and memory in response to content that depicted the positive reality of today’s Boomers.

“Age-based identities are created and reinforced by society and through media and marketing that set expectations for how people should behave and conform,” said Kevin Keane, Founder and CEO of Brainsights. “But 55+ audiences don’t see themselves as old and frail. They’re wise and energetic, with a passion for teaching, legacy and life fulfilment. That’s why advertising that presents aging in a positive light, like the HomeEquity Bank spots, are so successful.”

Among the insights revealed is that Boomers are increasingly alienated by old-age stereotypes. Today’s Boomers see themselves as adventurous and capable – important themes that counter the stereotypes prevalent in media. In addition, Boomers respond well to nostalgia tailored to their generation. Personal legacy has emerged as another central theme for today’s Boomers, as is the act of sharing and imparting knowledge to other generations. Like all consumers, today’s Boomers appreciate information that is easy to comprehend and delivered in digestible amounts.

“Sixty-year-olds see themselves the way forty-year-olds did in the past. They have the attitude, the ability, and the money, to be major players in the marketplace for decades to come. Marketers who don’t ‘get’ this – and who don’t reflect this in their messaging — are leaving literally billions of dollars on the table,” shared David Cravit, Vice President of Zoomer Media.

HomeEquity Bank Presents Boomers as Positive, Adventurous and Capable

The research shows that Canadians 55+ are responding positively to HomeEquity Bank’s approach that empowers older adults who need help funding their retirement. An example is a current spot from HomeEquity Bank called Sprinkler that depicts a home-owning couple deterring the visit of a persistent realtor through remote lawn sprinkler activation, a cheeky and mischievous story that elicits huge emotional responses from Boomers (+26 per cent connection) alongside strong lifts in attention and encoding (+11 per cent for both).

More information about the Brainsights research including the report and backgrounder for media can be provided upon request. 

About HomeEquity Bank

HomeEquity Bank, a federally-regulated, Schedule 1 Canadian bank, is the only national provider of the CHIP Reverse Mortgage® solution. Founded over 30 years ago, the company has been helping Canadian homeowners aged 55+ access the value of their homes, while maintaining ownership, with no monthly mortgage payments required until they make the decision to move or sell.

HomeEquity Bank has partnered with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) Canada’s largest non-profit, non-partisan advocacy association for Canadians As We Age. CARP now recommends HomeEquity Bank’s CHIP Reverse Mortgage® as a smart and comprehensive solution for Canadians planning for retirement. HomeEquity Bank has ranked on the Canadian Business and GROWTH 500 list, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.


For more information:

Niary Toodakian

Sr. Manager Advertising and Communications

(416) 557-9975


IPSOS Research Details

Ipsos is one of the world’s largest independent market research companies. Its commitment to driving the industry with innovative, best in class research techniques that are meaningful in today’s connected society is a primary goal. For this survey, a sample of 714 English Canadian homeowners 55+ were interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the age 55+ population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.

The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval.  In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ – 4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian homeowners in English Canada 55+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.