Home > Americans 50+ Feel WonderLust, Debunks Myth of Complacency

Americans 50+ Feel WonderLust, Debunks Myth of Complacency

New research reveals quest for self-improvement and spiritual connection, debunking myth of complacency

Alicia Stetzer                                       Kelly Kenny                       
+1-646-935-3910                                +1-646-935-3983     

NEW YORK October 18, 2016 –  There’s no resting on laurels when turning 50. An awakened sense of possibility, fueled by curiosity and optimism, make 50+ the age of wonder. Deep into their 80s, Americans seek opportunities to continue learning, give back and deepen relationships, according to research by global communications firm Ketchum.

“As we grow older, our sense of wonder is reborn,” said Karen Strauss, partner and chief strategy and creativity officer at Ketchum and co-lead of Ketchum 50+. “We seek self-improvement, spiritual connections, service to community and new experiences, all with an energized sense of purpose. We call it ‘WonderLust’ – a powerful hunger for a meaningful life.”

The Ketchum 50+ research finds that rather than aging into complacency, this group is aging into intense curiosity. The years seem to supercharge a spontaneous thirst for knowledge. After 50, most (73 percent) learn about things because they’re personally interested, not out of obligation or duty. The majority of those 50+ want to travel to places they’ve never visited (60 percent) to either learn about new cultures (61 percent) or try things they have never done before (59 percent).

WonderLust and the Sexes   
The research reveals subtle but important differences between genders. Women like each other’s company, traveling together and enjoying museums, galleries and spas, while men prefer to spend leisure time with their spouses.

Most men (57 percent) prefer to travel with their spouses as they get older, compared to just 43 percent of women who want their spouse as a traveling companion. Women are three times less likely than men to want to go on a health retreat with their spouse. More than half of men said they prefer to visit museums and art galleries with their spouses, while barely a third of women feel the same way. 

Seeking Spiritual Connections  
Not only are they exploring the world for inspiration, they are looking within themselves. Improvement of mind, body and spirit are prime motivators for people 50+. They are happier pursuing their interests alone than younger people are, with less regard for what others might think. Wonder drives them rather than loneliness or a desire to fill time.

While happy to pursue their interests alone, the 50+ years are marked by an increased commitment to community and spirituality. They volunteer for charitable causes three times more often than those in their 40s and attend religious services or events more often. By the time they reach their 70s, they attend religious services almost twice as often as people in their 40s. Almost half said they attended a religious service or event because it made them a better person.

“These are not people who are set or sedentary in their ways,” said Andrea Barish, SVP of strategic and creative planning at Ketchum and a co-lead of Ketchum 50+. “Some may be less mobile than they once were, but to serve this group, marketers need to understand they seek experience, achievement and fulfillment.”

The WonderLust research expands on a 2015 Ketchum study that identified ReMovement – a trend among people aged 50+ to remove people and things from their lives that no longer feel relevant or fulfilling. To help brands connect with this ReMovement, the firm launched Ketchum 50+ in 2015 in partnership with Ketchum Sports & Entertainment.

“The research makes clear that music, sports, branded content and podcasts are the best ways to connect with the 50+ market,” said Barish. “Our findings provide guidance in shaping campaigns that win consideration and loyalty from a lucrative, overlooked, misrepresented segment.”

The WonderLust Report indicates that beyond jettisoning relationships that don’t deliver, people 50+ are energetically pursuing a new approach to life. More than half said they do things not because they are supposed to, but because achieving big goals makes them feel energized.

Based on the results of the 2016 WonderLust survey, Ketchum 50+ identified 10 ways brands can create positive experiences that inspire 50-and-older consumers:

  • Feed the hunger to learn – People aged 50+ are curious, self-directed and seeking self-improvement
  • Destigmatize the solo – Make it easy and comfortable for individuals to enjoy travel, concerts and shows
  • Connect the ladies – Bring women together for friends to catch up and share experiences
  • Enable service – People 50+ care about community and are energized by accomplishment
  • Netflix and chill – People aged 50+ are still into cocooning with a spouse and a good movie
  • Whisper smart – Those aged 50+ love a good podcast, something that feeds hunger to learn
  • Food for the soul – Foster wellbeing and belonging through uplifting community events
  • Do it on foot – Give those aged 50+ opportunities to feel healthy, active and accomplished through movement
  • A whole new world – Offer travel experiences to 50+ that are new to them
  • Make them laugh – Humor is uplifting and good for you; women aged 50+ especially appreciate it

Ketchum Global Research & Analytics designed and analyzed an online survey of 1,000 respondents living in the United States. Ipsos fielded the survey from March 24 to 31, 2016; the survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

About Ketchum
Ketchum is a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. The winner of 19 Cannes Lions and an unprecedented five PRWeek Campaign of the Year Awards, Ketchum partners with clients to deliver strategic programming, game-changing creative and measurable results that build brands and reputations. For more information on Ketchum, a part of Omnicom Public Relations Group, visit

About Omnicom Public Relations Group
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, marketing to women, fashion, global health strategy and corporate social responsibility. It encompasses more than 6,000 public relations professionals in more than 330 offices worldwide who provide their expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. that includes more than 200 companies in a wide range of marketing disciplines including advertising, public relations, healthcare, customer relationship management, events, promotional marketing, branding and research.

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