David Bowie - 66 reasons to re-evaluate mature marketing. All this and a radio show as well!
David Bowie – like the 66 other famous people listed below – celebrates his 66th birthday this year. Bowie has much to celebrate - a hit album, hit singles and a critically-acclaimed exhibition at the V&A. The other celebrities are not exactly slumped in an armchair watching Countdown either. And neither are most of the rest of the 20 million-plus people aged over 50.
In fact, the UK’s ageing population is now too large, too complex and too diverse to rely on outmoded assumptions and stereotypes. That’s where we come in - we help our clients to gain deeper insight and plan more effective strategies for this important group. And we can also create more engaging and relevant brand communications.
Discover more about Mature Marketing
Mature marketing is defined as ‘the practice of understanding the importance, needs and requirements of the UK’s ageing population and ensuring that these are optimised within marketing strategy and practice. Mature marketing applies to all aspects of marketing planning and the marketing mix, and to every customer touchpoint.’ (Source: MMA).
Discover more about David Bowie
Tune-in to Mark Beasley’s radio show on The Wireless at 9.00 p.m. on Bank Holiday Monday (May 27th). it’s all about the music of David Bowie - from Space Oddity to his latest single. You can listen online or on DAB in London and Leeds.
66 celebrities who are 66+*
David Bowie, Lord Sugar, Carlos Santana, Jane Asher, Julian Barnes, Marianne Faithful, Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Timothy Dalton (Bond), Arnold Schwartznegger, Alan Bleasdale, Lesley Joseph, Donovan, Elton John, Hilary Clinton, Paul Smith (fashion), Meat Loaf, Briam May, Lewis Collins (Professionals), Noddy Holder, Maurice Saatchi, Sue Lawley, Diane Keaton, Billy Bonds, Tony Robinson, Alison Steadman, Barry Gibb (BeeGees), Dee Dee Wilde (Pans People), Felicity Kendall, Chris Tarrant, Benny Andersson (ABBA), Steven Spielberg, O J Simpson. Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), Jane Birkin (je t’aime), Peter Lorimer (Leeds), Joanna Lumley, Roy Wood (Wizzard), Lesley Judd (Blue Peter), Janet Street-Porter, Robby Krieger (the Doors), Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacy), Dolly Parton, Liza Minelli, Cher, Candice Bergen, Donald Trump, George W Bush, Linda Rondstadt, Bill Clinton, Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon, Richard Carpenter (the Carpenters), Ron Wood, Uri Geller, Patti Smith, Mirielle Mathieu, Ilie Nastase (tennis), Debbie Moore (Pineapple), Sylvester Stallone, Tommy Lee Jones, Alan Rickman, Elkie Brooks and not forgetting Ian Lavender (don’t tell them, Pike).
* With apologies for any inaccuracies
Launch of the Mature Marketing Association
Mark Beasley of mature marketing agency rhc advantage will be Chairman of the newly-formed Mature Marketing Association (MMA), a new UK-based not-for-profit organisation which launches next month.
The MMA will promote the concept and benefits of ‘mature marketing’ to the business, marketing and media communities. It will also facilitate networking and knowledge-sharing amongst its members, expected to include advertising and marketing agencies, academics, businesses, consultants, marketers and public and third sector organisations.
Said Beasley: “We believe that Europe’s ageing population presents a unique set of business and marketing challenges and opportunities which, if addressed correctly, will benefit both business and consumer. However, it is a source of frustration to us that many businesses and organisations have yet to optimise their alignment with this strategically important group, meaning that many older people are unable to source, purchase or consume goods and services in the way they would like - not to mention the missed business opportunity. We are on a mission to change the age myopia that is still prevalent in the business and marketing communities. “
Beasley is supported as Chairman by veteran mature marketing experts, Kevin Lavery and Dick Lumsden as Vice Chairmen.
Cosmetics and mature consumers: our presentation at the in-cosmetics conference, Paris, April 2013
Mark Beasley of mature marketing experts, rhc advantage, will be making a presentation at in-cosmetics, the ‘global business platform’ for personal care products, to be held in Paris April 16th-18th (http://www.in-cosmetics.com). The subject of the presentation is: The marketing challenges presented by an ageing population. The presentation will draw upon three strands of research: a review of 250 secondary research sources; an online discussion forum, using Age Panel; and interviews with seven experts on mature female consumers.
About the presentation
Subject: The marketing challenges presented by an ageing population
Date: 18 Apr 2013, 15:00 - 15:45
Location: Marketing Trends Theatre
Presenter: Mark Beasley, planning director, rhc advantage – the UK’s leading mature marketing agency (http://www.rhcadvantage.co.uk)
In Europe, the over-50s account for more than 40% of the adult population. This percentage rises each year as the population continues to age. This increasingly large group is now too large to ignore, too complex to stereotype and too diverse to second-guess.
This presentation will examine the myths and realities of the ‘over 50s’ market, drawing upon a wide range of data sources, including some commissioned specifically for this event. It aims to persuade marketers to re-evaluate their marketing strategy in the light of continued demographic change.
Research sources used for the presentation
To prepare for the presentation, three research areas have been used:
• ‘Marketing & Mature Audiences’ – a comprehensive review of 250 data and research sources relating to marketing and older people (http://www.rhcadvantage.co.uk/insight)
• ‘Age Panel’ – the online discussion forum for expert, more mature, consumers http://www.rhcadvantage.co.uk/news/cosmetics
• Expert Informants. Interviews have been conducted with thought-leaders experienced in working with female consumers aged over 50: Geraldine Bedell, journalist and Editor of Gransnet (http://www.gransnet.com); Cyndy Lessing, Jan Shure and Karen Berman of sosensational, the style experts for grown-up women (http://www.sosensational.co.uk); Tracey McAlpine of Fighting Fifty, the online community (http://www.fightingfifty.co.uk); Imogen Matthews, a respected consultant, journalist and researcher with unique insight into the Beauty Industry (http://www.imogenmatthews.co.uk); and Kathy Wrennall, of Not Just Powder.com, an expert on health, beauty and cosmetics brands.
The story so far
Preparing for this presentation has forced me to confront some fundamental issues regarding cultural attitudes to age and ageing. The cosmetics industry probably forces us to think about these issues more than any other. I go into this in more detail in my blog article on the in-cosmetics website: http://www.in-cosmetics.com/en/in-cosmetics-blog/mygeneration/
Can’t make Paris? That’s OK, we’ll bring the presentation to you
If are not going to Paris, but would be interested in the presentation, we will come to your offices to present to you and your colleagues (or, you are welcome to visit our offices) for a nominal charge.
For more information
House of Lords publishes report on the Ageing Population today. But what is your business doing?
The House of Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change has today (14.03.13) published its report. It concludes that the UK is “woefully underprepared” for the social and economic challenges presented by an ageing society.
The report points out what has become painfully clear over the past few years:
• The UK population continues to age: the report cites figures from the Office for National Statistics forecasting a 50% rise in the number of over-65s and a doubling in over-85s between 2010 and 2030.
• The Government lacks a vision or a coherent strategy for an ageing society
• The Government does not do enough for older people now and has no plans in place to improve the situation for the future, as the population continues to age
• Major changes in pensions, health care and employment practices are needed to help people “sustain a good quality of life” as they age
But it’s not just about the public sector: this demographic change affects the private sector as well. As Lord Elkin, the Chairman of the Committee says: “As a country we are not ready for the rapid ageing of our population.” This applies to every business in the UK, to a greater or a lesser extent - and our experience is that not only are many businesses ignorant of the demographic realities, they have no strategy in place to address it. That’s why we’re here.
rhc advantage helps businesses re-align with the challenges and opportunities presented by the UK’s ageing population. We have the expertise, experience and knowledge to help you develop deeper insight, to plan more effective business and marketing strategies and to create more engaging and relevant brand communications.
Do you turn up the Television a little more than you used to? TV headphones for the over-50s
rhc advantage is working with Sennheiser UK to promote their ‘audiology’ range of headphones and headsets to older consumers. The first challenge was that of positioning what is a technically-complex product range, sometimes described in terms such as ‘assistive hearing devices’, in a way which will engage mainstream consumers.
As a result, it has been agreed that the products will be positioned as ‘TV headphones’ for people who, as part of the normal ageing process, find that they need to turn up the volume of their television a little more than they used to.
This is based upon three key insights: hearing loss increases with age; the sound quality of many flatscreen televisions is poor; and as a result, many older people find it difficult to hear what is being said on television. The main insight for us at rhc advantage has been the almost transformational improvement in sound quality that the Sennheiser products deliver: it’s not about louder, it’s about better.
Hearing loss improves with age
According to research published by Action on Hearing Loss, hearing loss increases with age. 63% (6.39million) of people with hearing loss are over retirement age. Hearing loss is experienced by 42% of people over 50 and 71% of people over 70. Men are more likely to have hearing loss than women. However, the charity claims that people are slow to recognise and address hearing loss, stating that it takes people ten years on average to take action. http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/your-hearing/about-deafness-and-hearing-loss/statistics.aspx
The sound quality of many modern Televisions is not very good
A recent survey of Which? members found that nine in 10 people count sound quality as an important factor when considering buying a new TV. ‘So why is finding a set with great sound quality such a challenge?’ they asked, going on to say: ‘The main reason is space. As TVs have become thinner and thinner, it has become harder for manufacturers to insert speakers large enough to deliver good sound. Sometimes sound processing software inside the TV can partly make up for this, but it’s a tall order. Adding a sound bar, or hooking your TV up to hi-fi speakers can (also) improve things.” http://blogs.which.co.uk/technology/tv-dvd/televisions/best-tvs-for-sound-quality-which-test-lab-round-up/ 5.11.12
The coping strategies of a adding a sound bar or additional speakers can be valuable when all people in the room share the same problem: but what happens when one person has hearing loss, and others do not? This can mean that the television volume becomes a matter of debate: too loud for some, and too quiet for others. And that’s where Sennheiser TV headphones come in…
Campaign to improve TV sound quality
A few years ago, retired BBC Executive Richard Bates, in conjunction with charity, Hearing Link, instigated a campaign to make television viewing a more enjoyable pursuit for deaf and hard of hearing people. This led an extensive research programme to discover the extent to which audiences had difficulty in hearing what was said in television programmes, and the nature of the problems encountered, involving the BBC ,the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) and the RNID (now Action on Hearing Loss).
Three audience surveys were conducted in 2010: a BBC survey among its 20,000 online panel, a complementary diary-based survey, led by the VLV, of non-internet users over the age of 65, and a survey among members of the RNID. The research found that a substantial number of viewers had some difficulty in hearing what was said on television and this was particularly so among older people.
President of the VLV, Jocelyn Hay. said: “This is the most common complaint VLV receives and in 2009 the number was growing. The problem is particularly serious among the elderly and those who already have hearing problems.” http://www.hearinglink.org/campaigns/tvsoundquality
Further information about the product range can be found at www.sennheiser.co.uk/tv - written and designed by rhc advantage. A campaign involving advertising, direct marketing and in-store activity will be rolled out over the year, in parallel with new retail distribution. The copy platform reads as follows:
For your ears only: Sennheiser TV Headphones
If you are turning up the volume more often than you used to, Sennheiser TV headphones could transform the way you enjoy television.
Listen to your favourite television programmes at the volume you choose, with much greater clarity. Yet no-one else in the room need hear a thing!
Exceptional sound quality is at your fingertips. Built-in volume controls determine what you hear through the headphones, not the sound of the television itself. Speech sounds more distinct and more natural. Films come to life. And music is richer and more enjoyable.
You can choose from headphones with cables (‘wired headphones”) or without cables (‘wireless headphones’). With wireless headphones, you can listen to the TV without cables getting in the way. What’s more, some models have a range of up to 100 metres, meaning that you need never miss a thing, as your headphones will pick up the TV around the house and even in the garden.
For more information, please contact Mark Beasley of rhc advantage, the mature marketing agency:
(t) 020 7193 2361
Radio for Grown-Ups: advertising, promotional and sponsorship opportunities with the Wireless
Our good friends at media production specialists USP Content have just announced that there are now advertising, promotional and sponsorship opportunities with The Wireless, the ‘radio for grown-ups’ station they run for Age UK. And as the ‘marketing for grown-ups’ agency ourselves, we wanted to be the first to let you know!
Why we support The Wireless
I’ve worked with radio on and off for the past 30 years – as client, agency, writer and even the odd stint as presenter – so when I heard about the marriage of a medium I love with an audience I champion, I just had to know more. And now that The Wireless is planning to ‘go commercial’, I’m keen to spread the word.
Radio is a really involving medium which provides advertisers with all manner of creative possibilities. As the marketing agency which specialises in ‘older people’, we are excited by the opportunities for businesses wanting to engage with this audience.
About The Wireless
The Wireless from Age UK is ‘radio for grown-ups’ – dedicated to playing a mix of music, entertainment and information, to improve later life in the UK. The well-known presenters include ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton and Graham Dene. As well as popular and specialist music shows, the station also runs a number of speech shows in the evening, addressing topical issues relevant to the older consumer.
The station is available on DAB in London and Yorkshire regions, as well as online and via the tune-in app on smart phones. You can listen to the Wireless ‘live’ at http://www.ageuk.org.uk/the-wireless/ or to a promotional trailer here: http://uspcontent.com/portfolio/the-wireless-from-age-uk/. The station already has 125,000 listeners per month and this is growing fast.
Advertising, promotional and sponsorship opportunities
The Wireless is in its infancy, so this is a great chance to get involved at an early stage, for a very reasonable cost - and if you like it, to grow with the station. At the time of writing, there are a wide range of opportunities to sponsor most Wireless programmes, to run on-air competitions and to run advertising campaigns.
To give two examples:
• Two-week advertising campaign consisting of 120 x 30 second spots - £500
• Sponsorship of The Health Show for a month, including 36 credits during the show and 120 promotions outside the show - £750.
We would be happy to send you more information and to discuss things further with you. We receive no fee or commission for introducing you to the Wireless, although if you would like us to write your ads or devise a promotion, we would charge a modest fee. If you’d like to know more, please contact me.
rhc advantage - the mature marketing agency
t: 020 7193 2361
Cosmetics: the Marketing Challenges of an Ageing Population. Join the discussion here
On April 18th, I am presenting at a cosmetics industry conference in Paris (http://www.in-cosmetics.com/) . My subject is: the Marketing Challenges of an Ageing Population (with specific regard to the cosmetics industry). I am well aware that this raises all sorts of controversial issues, so I am keen to undertake some primary research, rather than only rely upon secondary sources.
So, we are looking for people to take part in an online discussion forum.
To take part, join our online discussion forum
For this project, we are using our own online discussion forum, Age Panel, for the first time. Here’s how to sign-up:
• Go to www.agepanel.co.uk
• Click the green button at the top to the right marked ‘Create Account’
• Complete the registration form. The only criteria are that you live in the UK and are aged over 45.
• When you have entered all the information requested, click on the ‘Create Account’ box at the bottom of the form.
• You will then be sent an email asking you to activate your membership. Please follow the instructions given with this email.
• You can then start using the website. Look for the heading ‘Cosmetics’, click on the topic of your choice, and join the discussion
What is Age Panel?
Age Panel is an online discussion forum for expert consumers aged over 45 who are prepared to share their experience and opinions with businesses, and with each other. It has been set up by rhc advantage, the specialist mature marketing agency, to help companies listen to the voice of expert, more experienced, consumers and as a result, to improve their communications, products and services. This will be the first time it has been used, so your involvement and feedback will be much appreciated!
For more information about Age Panel, or a User Guide which includes Terms and Conditions, please contact Mark Beasley.
t: 020 7193 2361
Where are we now? David Bowie and marketing to mature audiences
If you want to know about the beauty industry, there is no finer place to go than Imogen Matthews Associates. Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher with unique insight into the Beauty Industry. For the past 20 years, she has provided marketers, retailers and consultants with expert commentary and analysis.
IMA’s recent report, Older Women: the Forgotten Demographic, highlights an unexploited opportunity for an ageing population that wants to stay younger for longer and is prepared to spend money on beauty treatments and solutions, especially at the premium end. But, Imogen asked, is the beauty industry really doing enough to maximise this growth demographic?
I was asked to write an article for the IMA blog, reproduced below. I set myself the task of linking David Bowie and marketing to mature audiences. Here’s my article - I think I got away with it….
10 Golden Rules for Marketing to the UK’s Most Affluent Demographic
David Bowie has been in the news lately, after an absence of 11 years. His new single –‘Where are we now? – was released on his 66th birthday. This has astonished the world of media, which seems surprised that the “poor old chap” is still alive, let alone able to croak out a few words of song,
According to Robert McCrum, writing in the Guardian: ‘At 66, Bowie also defies gravity’, going on to assert that ‘most poets and songwriters do their best work before the age of 40’, citing Byon, Keats, Shakespeare and Shelley.
This sort of casual ageism continues to underpin the attitudes of many of us working in marketing. In fact, Byron, Keats and Shelly never even made the age of 40 – this was not unusual in the 19th century. However, life expectancy has moved on significantly since then. Most of us can expect to live well into our 80s and if you’re born this year, you have a one-in-three chance of living to 100 and beyond.
Already, more than 50% of adults in the UK are aged over 45. So what are we to make of the ageing population that comes with increased life expectancy? As David Bowie’s single enters the top ten, here are my top ten soundbites for marketing to more mature consumers.
1. Think of individuals, not groups. Do not categorise older people as a single, homogenous segment. There are too many of us for that and we are not all the same!
2. Do not overtly target ‘older people’. We know how old we are, you don’t need to remind us. If you are more subtle and convince us that you meet our needs, we might be interested.
3. Think differently. Traditional stereotypes of age and ageing no longer apply. In popular music, artists older than Bowie continue to survive and prosper – Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones, for example.
4. Following the money? The over-50s account for 80% of the UK’s wealth and disproportionately high levels of expenditure. However, this is not evenly distributed and will not be replicated to the same extent by younger age cohorts.
5. Let’s get physical. Physical and cognitive decline are part of the normal ageing process. Make sure you have an inclusive approach to all aspects of the marketing mix, not just marketing communications.
6. Age is relative. Our own age dictates our perceptions of old age and the attributes associated with old age. Make sure that your marketing is consumer-driven and not at the mercy of well-meaning younger marketers or agency staff.
7. Don’t target by generation. In the UK, terms such as ‘Baby boomer’ and ‘Generation X’ provide little consumer insight. Members of such groups share little other than the period in which they were born.
8. Think across age groups. Few products and services are consumed and purchased only by older people. There will often be more than one generation involved. Also, the audience for many brands is likely to span different generations, as consumer needs and interests are seldom shaped by age alone.
9. Walk the talk. If you care about older people so much, why not employ some? Few people over 50 work in marketing. This no longer makes sense, if indeed it ever did.
10. There are no ‘golden bullets’. This is a large, diverse and complex group of people – not a small niche group. Please do not expect ‘off-the-shelf’ guidelines – despite this article!
To conclude as we started – with David Bowie, who wrote back in 1971 in the song Changes: ‘Pretty soon you’re gonna get a little older.’ The biggest danger of marketing for older people, I think, is the tendency to think of older people as ‘them’. In fact, it’s not them, it’s us: if not now, then later. If we’re lucky.
These ten soundbites were distilled from rhc advantage’s 180 page research report - http://www.rhcadvantage.co.uk/insight
To find out about ‘Older Women: the Forgotten Demographic’ or Imogen’s other work on the Premium Beauty Market, visit http://www.imogenmatthews.co.uk
Silver Surfers: here’s the good news (and the bad news)
Much as I dislike the term ‘Silver Surfer’, it is one that is still in common use and is used to signify ‘older people who are online’. Today, it has been used by both the Express and Telegraph. The Telegraph has announced the closure of Saga Zone, the so-called ‘FaceBook for the Over-50s’, while the Express has covered a new business for ‘silver surfers, using a few quotes from an expert source (aka me).
1. Saga Zone to close
Saga Zone – the online social networking forum for people over 50 run by Saga – has been closed. An announcement on the website states that it will close on February 26th. The reason given is the amount of ‘controversial and offensive’ content posted on the site by members, which is seen as a threat to the Saga brand.
In the Telegraph today, more specific reasons are given and a spokesperson for Saga is quoted as referring to ‘racist, homophobic and anti-semitic or anti-arab’ comments. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ianmcowie/100022685/racist-jibes-prompt-saga-to-scrap-its-social-network-facebook-for-the-over-50s/
Seen by some as a rival to FaceBook, but for older people, Saga Zone is claimed to have had ‘many thousands’ of registered viewers but only ‘low hundreds’ of regular contributors. This ‘conversion ratio’ is what one might expect – but given the massive popularity of FaceBook the absolute number of users seems surprisingly low.
Data released by FaceBook last month claimed 27 million users in the UK, 30% of whom are over aged over 50. So why such low numbers for Saga Zone? One of the reasons for this could be that most people prefer to do their social networking on an ‘age neutral’ basis. ‘I think I’ll talk to someone my own age’ is rarely high on our agendas, while ‘I’d like to talk with someone with similar interests’ probably is.
As to whether or not older people are any more or less politically correct than any other age group - let’s leave that subject or another day!
2. ‘Striking gold with Britain’s silver surfers’
In the Daily Express today, Maisha Frost looks at a new IT business servicing ‘older’ IT users, putting this in the context of a ‘mature market’ which is large, growing and under-served.
She includes wise remarks and comments from a ‘specialist in marketing to mature customers’ – someone called Mark Beasley, of marketing agency rhc advantage.
3. New marketing research online community for older people about to launch
‘Marketing to the Ageing Consumer’ - a Book Review
Mark Beasley, of rhc advantage, the mature marketing agency, reviews ‘Marketing to the Ageing Consumer - the Secrets to Building an Age Friendly Business’ by Dick Stroud and Kim Walker (Palgrave & MacMillan).
1. Introducing the book: the first to cover an important subject
To get straight to the point: the ‘secrets to building an age friendly business’ revealed in this book depend upon understanding how the ageing of consumers’ minds, bodies and senses determine the products they purchase. This book is important because, claim the publishers, this subject has not previously been examined in any detail. In fact, it is stated that it is the ‘first and most comprehensive’ account of this subject – but let me stop right there. Because if it is the first, then by definition it will surely also be the most comprehensive! Unfortunately, clumsy stylistic errors of this sort throughout the book tend to get in the way of what is otherwise an authoritative text.
That said, it is almost impossible to review this book in anything other than positive terms. The broad subject area – that of marketing and the ageing population – is an important one, to which my business (rhcadvantage.co.uk) has a shared interest and commitment. We are therefore pre-disposed towards supporting anything which promotes it. What’s more, this book breaks new ground by focusing on the need for businesses to focus on the unique physical needs of older people. The subject of marketing communications for ‘older people’ has received some attention over the years, but as Stroud and Walker point out, there are many more important factors to be considered first.
The reviewers task is also hampered by the long list of the Great and Good (featured in the first two pages of the book), all of whom endorse the book. What’s more, the authors themselves are experienced and highly-respected authorities on this subject. ‘Critic beware’ is the message!
So, all of this makes it almost impossible to review this book in anything other than positive terms. Despite that, I concluded that inside this 240 page book, a concise and much better-written article is waiting to get out. Either that, or the breadth and depth of the subject matter (and the obvious research and knowledge of the authors) deserve a much longer and more substantial book. In other words, the main limitation of the book is the format: perhaps the market or the publishers dictate the length.
To support my case, I would argue that the context which gives the subject matter of the book such significance – ageing populations and the failure of business to address the challenges and opportunities that they present – is given insufficient weight. Perhaps the authors feel that everyone already knows this: an assumption with which I disagree. By contrast, too much attention is given to unnecessary ‘scientific’ detail. It is important to know about the physiological aspects of ageing and what the business implications are, but do we really need to know quite so much of the medical background ? The authors state that they have aimed to focus ‘on the business rather than the science of ageing’ but I believe they might want to address this balance.
2. Aims and key concepts
So what exactly is the book setting out to do? This is best explained by the sub-title shown above (‘the secrets to building an age-friendly business’). The best statement of the authors’ intentions that I can otherwise find is the less than inspiring statement that they aim to provide ‘knowledge and techniques to help marketers benefit from a new dimension of change that will progressively affect all areas of their work’. In other words, their aim is to help marketers address, and benefit from, continued population ageing. This is certainly a laudable objective. However, should the audience be confined to marketers, who seldom control or even influence all aspects of a business?
In doing this, the book depends upon three important concepts. The first is that population ageing is of crucial significance to business. In fact, the authors claim that “this is a phenomenon which will soon equal sustainability as a global trend that the corporate world must understand and devise policies to embrace”. I do not think that this important concept is sufficiently developed or substantiated – yet the significance of everything that follows depends upon it.
Second, it is assumed that it is possible and indeed desirable to attain a position of what the authors call ‘age friendliness’, a concept which is defined as ‘an environment in which the unique physical needs of older people are satisfied in a way that is natural and beneficial for all ages.’ If you’re looking for specific definition and measurement of this rather nebulous concept, you’re in the right place. Fortuitously, the authors’ consulting business (which this book is presumably intended to promote) does just this, some of which is explained in the book.
The final concept is that the key to age friendliness is greater understanding of physical (or physiological – both terms are used) ageing and how this affects all customer touchpoints. This subject has been neglected, claim the authors, and is the key to reaching the nirvana of age friendliness.
3. Structure and content
Part one: the discipline of marketing to older people
The book can be divided into four parts, although this is not made as clear as it might be. The first part gives a very brief overview of the history and scope of the ‘discipline’ of marketing to older people, although how, where and to what extent this ‘discipline’ is codified or indeed practised is not explained. The authors, understandably, are keen to get to the point of the book, but the result of this brevity is that some important subject matter is compressed a little too much. Most people in business do not know this stuff, I would suggest, but the significance of the rest of the book depends upon it.
This brevity also means that some fundamental points are reduced to un-substantiated assertions. To take one example, it is stated that the starting point is ‘to address the paradox of why a large group of wealthy people attracts so little attention from the marketing community’ – a significant point, which to some extent underpins the very existence of this book. However, no evidence is given to support it (possibly because there isn’t any: much as we might like there to be).
Part two: physiological ageing
The second section of the book examines the intricacies of physiological ageing and the business opportunities they present. This section accounts for 50% (120 pages) of the book and it is no small achievement to bring all of this information together. Looking at mind, body and senses, one is reminded of just how much there is to go wrong!
A lot of secondary research was clearly carried out by the authors and it is well-structured and explained. However, the book does provide rather too much detailed scientific data for this reader. In fact, it often seems more like a biology textbook than a marketing text, with diagrams of skeletons, tables of medical data and impenetrable sentences such as: ‘the somasensory systems affect all of those touchpoints that are reliant, for their successful operation, on the body’s sensitivity to threshold levels of vibration, pressure or temperature.’ The point is made: the authors have done their homework – but do we need to have our noses rubbed in it quite so often?
This ‘science bit’ seems to be at the expense of examining attitudes and behaviour regarding physiological ageing. These do matter, I would suggest: I like to turn up the TV; you have the TV on too loud; he has hearing impairment. Despite this niggle, this section of the book is full of information and insights unlikely to be found in any other marketing text and the underlying point is well made.
Part three: age-friendliness - what it is and how to get some
The third section of the book explains the concept of age-friendliness and how it is measured. This provides some interesting topics – for example, the surprising age-friendliness of Apple, which suggests that the default setting for good business and good product design is age neutral. A process for developing an age-friendly strategy is considered and the reasons why this has not yet been embraced by many companies are given. While these all ring true, this perhaps has as much to do with the well-documented problems associated with planning and executing any sort of long-term strategic change.
This section of the book goes on to introduce a methodology for strategy development – the authors’ own AF (Age-Friendly) Audit toolset. This is claimed to be a thorough evaluation based upon an age-friendly model of 24 physiological effects of ageing across over 200 customer touchpoints. I do not propose to attempt a critique of this – in fact, I would love to know more. However, I am aware that such approaches work in other areas and respect the capabilities and experience of the authors.
Part four: implementing an age-friendly strategy
The final – and quite short – part of the book examines why companies should adopt an age-friendly strategy and what the broader business and societal implications are. Chapter 10 (creating an age-friendly strategy) is particularly well-written and well-argued and stands in its own right as being worthy of wider dissemination at board-level. If you read one chapter, read this one. Finally, the last chapter stresses that the ageing population is a ‘mega-trend’ that must be addressed, and examines the future of age-friendliness. This part of the book would form the basis of an excellent article for the Harvard Business Review.
4. To what extent does the book achieve its aims?
As stated earlier, we support any book which raises the important issues that this book does. The book represents a new direction in the (limited) literature on this subject and – like any book - has strengths and weaknesses. I would like to have seen more of the high level argument in the closing chapters and a lot less of the ‘A level biology text book’ detail. However, the main weakness is the format: I am guessing that this book had to be of a certain size dictated by the publishers. This means, as I have said, that it is too long to be a hard-hitting polemic (as suggested by the final chapters), yet also too short to set out the full business case for considering this subject in the first place. Imperfect perhaps, but it introduces new subject matter and makes some important points.
31st January 2013
rhc advantage is a marketing agency which specialises in the mature (50+) market. We help our clients to gain better insights, plan more effective strategies and create more engaging brand communications
Share the Warmth this Christmas, with rhc advantage and Age UK
It’s Christmas, as Noddy Holder has been shouting so memorably for the past 39 years. That means it’s time for us to extend our warmest wishes to all our associates, clients, colleagues and friends. Merry Christmas, everybody.
This year, we’re celebrating our second full year as the UK’s only mature (50+) marketing agency. It’s been hard work, but we remain committed to the belief that older people deserve a better deal from business and marketers.
Above all, we’ve really enjoyed working with our clients, meeting new clients and producing work we’re all proud of. Thank you for sharing our vision.
But not everyone is so lucky. Many older people will spend Christmas cold, hungry and alone. That’s why we’re supporting Age UK’s ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign, which is helping many thousands of older people to celebrate Christmas the way it should be celebrated. Amongst friends, in the warmth, with a hot meal.
We would like to send you our warmest wishes for Christmas and the New Year. We hope that your yuletide is merry and your celebrations are everything you hope for. For more information about how you could help spread the warmth to others, please read on.
What is Spread the Warmth?
Here is what Age UK has to say.
Spread the Warmth is an Age UK campaign to stop older people suffering and dying needlessly in winter. Every year, more than 26,000 people die needlessly during winter because of the cold weather.Older people are more vulnerable to effects of cold weather - out of the 26,000 winter deaths every year, 9 in 10 are older people. Over a third of people in the UK aged 65+ say they are dreading the cold weather in winter.
As we get older, our bodies respond differently to the cold – increasing the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke, or pneumonia. Cold weather also makes it more difficult for people to get around – which can lead to depression, loneliness, and isolation. Over 500,000 older people spend Christmas Day alone. Cold weather also adds to the financial worries of older people - 36% of people aged 60 or over in Great Britain stay or live in just one heated room of their home to save money. 30% say they avoid heating rooms like the bedroom, bathroom or living room because they are worried about the cost.
During Spread the Warmth, Age UK and the majority of our network of local partners will:
• Distribute essential items like clothes, heaters and electric blankets – to keep people warm
• Provide benefit checks to ease financial worries
• Offer snow clearance services, shopping support and befriending visits – so those with mobility issues can get what they need
• Run Christmas parties, theatre trips, and Christmas shopping trips - to help fight isolation
• Distribute information guides, including tips on how to stay warm in your home
• Distribute thermometers – so older people know when to turn on their heating
• Put pressure on MPs and local councils to make cold-related winter deaths a public health priority
Your donations are a crucial part of this support – it is through your generosity that Age UKs and local partners are able to provide these services. Thousands of older people die every year, because of the cold. Just £5 can make a difference and help to save a life today. To donate, click here.
50% discount now available on new edition of ‘Mature Market’ Research Report
Last month, specialist 50+ marketing agency, rhc advantage, released a substantially updated and revised edition of its research report, ‘Marketing for Mature Audiences’. This is now available at a 50% discount until November 16th.
The report provides a comprehensive overview of the subject of marketing and older people in the UK, drawing upon more than 250 data and research sources. It provides a wealth of information, insight and interpretation to marketers and anyone else interested in building relationships with this important group.
Said rhc advantage director, Mark Beasley: “The report has been extensively revised and updated and now has 20% more content and two entirely new sections. As far as we know, there is nothing else available with the breadth and depth offered by this report.”
The report, which is 180 pages in length, was produced with the input of two University Professors. It covers the following subjects: demographic trends; economic, social, political and legal trends and issues; the income, wealth and expenditure of older people; the attitudes of older people to life, business and marketing; segmentation and generational marketing; a review of marketing practice and marketing communications, including guidelines; digital and the internet; and a European overview.
New edition of ‘Mature Market’ Research Report released
Specialist 50+ marketing agency, rhc advantage, has today released a substantially updated and revised edition of its research report, ‘Marketing for Mature Audiences’.
The report provides a comprehensive overview of the subject of marketing and older people in the UK, drawing upon more than 250 data and research sources. It provides a wealth of information, insight and interpretation to marketers and anyone else interested in building relationships with this important group.
Said rhc advantage director, Mark Beasley: “The report has been extensively revised and updated and now has 20% more content and two entirely new sections. As far as we know, there is nothing else available with the breadth and depth offered by this report.”
The report, which is 180 A4 pages in length, was produced with the input of two University Professors. It covers the following subjects: demographic trends; economic, social, political and legal trends and issues; the income, wealth and expenditure of older people; the attitudes of older people to life, business and marketing; segmentation and generational marketing; a review of marketing practice and marketing communications, including guidelines; digital and the internet; and a European overview.
The report is available in a hard copy format. The cover price of the report also includes a personal presentation of the main findings and, as a final statement of confidence, there is a money-back guarantee. For more information and a free executive summary, please contact Mark Beasley or call 020 7193 2361
The 50+ Show: Middle England comes to Olympia
If, like me, you’re involved in marketing for older people, you are likely to say things like ‘the over 50s should not be treated as a homogenous group’ on a regular basis. As we all know, this is a large, complex and diverse group of discerning consumers. One size does not fit all. So what common ground could an exhibition called ‘The 50+ Show’ cover that would appeal to this group? To find out, I went to Olympia, London, on Friday July 13th.
I have to admit that my pencil was sharpened in anticipation of an extremely unpleasant and depressing experience: queues, crowds and inadequate toilet facilities, for example. In fact, when I arrived at 10.00 a.m. check-in was quick and efficient (if not particularly welcoming) and I was seated inside with a coffee within minutes. This enabled me to relax, plan my route, people-watch and admire the beautiful Morgan three-wheeler mysteriously parked in front of me.
Sipping my coffee, I took stock. Perhaps my ‘first experience’ of the show could have been improved. Could there have been some friendly older people to meet and greet us all, instead of the usual jobsworths? What about a Help and Information Desk as you walk in, staffed by more of the same? And most importantly, what happens when you take a corner at speed in that Morgan? A visit to the loo was achieved without delay or incident and I was free to start my tour, relaxed and crowd-free.
Sense and sensibility
The crowds took some time to arrive. Perhaps my 50+ colleagues travel some distance to the show from their homes in leafy suburbia, and may quite sensibly choose to avoid the rush-hour and take advantage of cheap-day return fares. By lunchtime, the show had filled up significantly, making it much more of a scrum to walk around - in fact, the organisers claim that the show achieved a record attendance this year. Good news for exhibitors, a number of whom told me that they were very satisfied with the traffic on their stand.
This also meant that the facilities came under a certain amount of pressure later in the day. One female visitor told me that there was only one set of ladies toilets, representing a lengthy hike for less sprightly visitors finding themselves in the wrong part of the hall at the wrong time, and a permanent queue when you got there. ‘Not at all pleasant for we ladies in their 60s’, as she put it.
Lunchtime was not quite what one might have expected. Many visitors had chosen to bring their own sandwiches, which they proceeded to eat anywhere they could. It was rather like one large picnic, but minus anything (other than food) that might make a picnic enjoyable. Could space be made available for this next year, perhaps? A Picnic Zone, sponsored by Hovis, perhaps.
Power to the people
And what about my fellow 50+ visitors? Overall, my impression was of a much more diverse group than I had expected. But although a lot of boxes were ticked, my sense was that the dominant group consisted of couples in their sixties, many of whom had ‘Middle England’, sensible shoes and ‘Marks and Spencer leisurewear’ written all over them. This is perhaps not too surprising given that the show was until recently called the Retirement Show and this is the age group most likely to be interested in retirement-related matters. The over-50s is a powerful group, in terms of both size and spending power: was its full diversity represented at this show? It would be interesting to see the visitor profile – and it I were a potential exhibitor, I would be even more interested.
Excuse me, your roots are showing
The roots of the show as the Retirement Show are clearly visible and reflected by the fact that Prudential are the main sponsors. And the concept of retirement goes some way to explaining what a group of otherwise diverse people might have in common beyond their age: a major life event, with changing financial and personal circumstances to consider.
Not surprisingly, the nature of the exhibitors reflect this. The usual suspects were there in force – heathcare, retirement property and travel, for example. But with more than 150 exhibitors in all, there was a much wider range than you might expect: did you even know that there is such a phenomenon as health tourism, let alone a company specialising in dental holidays? A number of areas seemed under-represented, not least financial services companies – although this may be explained by the fact that Prudential are the main sponsor.
Activities for life
An impressive feature of the show is the wide range of activities, demonstrations. presentations and seminars on offer. This included an activity zone, cookery demonstration, a climbing wall, a dance floor, a fashion show, live music, show homes and much more. Together, these offered a choice of information and entertainment from 10.00 in the morning to 4.30 in the afternoon. If I had one criticism it would be that there was too much going on in the space available – with the ‘noise clutter’ making it hard to concentrate on any one thing. I have to admit that the presentation called ‘Sex can last a Lifetime’ caught my attention. Impressive but ultimately frustrating, I would imagine.
One area where I would suggest improvement is in the promotional activity for the show itself, which simply does not do the show or the audience justice. Just because it’s for older people does not mean that basic standards of creativity or production values should be ignored. A more focused proposition would help to convey the depth and breadth of the show, rather than depending upon an apparently random ‘shopping list’.
Walk the talk
In conclusion, my main point would be that the show needs to convince potential visitors that is more than a device to lure us into a single space where people can sell us things. Why not create more of a sense of empathy by having older people to meet and greet visitors, to provide general advice and information, and perhaps even work on the stands. One obvious area of dissonance is the stand personnel employed by some exhibitors. Too many stands seemed to be staffed by temporary staff, many of whom were quite young, who seemed to lack any obvious interest in the subject or empathy with older people. Come on exhibitors – walk the talk!
The stands with staff of a more varied age profile stood out and maybe it was no co-incidence that they also captured the crowds. For example, on the ‘We are Better Together’ stand, the founder, Dr Meredith Belbin , was very much in evidence, belying his 85 years of age.
The management of another stand had the interesting (if not very PC) idea of employing a number of young women in short skirts, high heels, red lipstick and glasses (‘secretaries’) to attract customers and encourage them to speak with a smaller number of men in suits (‘bosses’). Even this ploy was not quite in the same league as I saw at an exhibition in Barcelona recently, where a Russian telecoms firm had a team of scantily-clad ‘pole dancers’ performing on their stand. This was supported by a free draw to win a night in a dacha with one of them, for a ‘business discussion’. Now there’s an idea for the next show. Or like me, would you rather win that Morgan three-wheeler?
Retirement: an impressive campaign
One of the most important aspects of blogging is topicality, so I apologise that you may have already read about this elsewhere. However, if you haven’t - please do read on.
Last month, Prudential and their agency, DROGA5 New York, won an award at the Cannes Advertising jamboree for their ‘Day One’ campaign, which tackled the subject of retirement.
Whatever you may think of advertising industry awards, the campaign is impressive. I love the way it addresses the clichés and stereotypes surrounding retirement, as well as the challenges and problems that people face as they retire. In fact, the only two negatives are: once again, the USA is ahead of the game; and I had no involvement in this campaign whatsoever. You can watch the video here:
Here’s what they said: “While the rest of the retirement category has promised shallow hopes of vineyards and yachts, we seized reality and captured what it felt like to wake up on a person’s first day of retirement in 2011. We collected and documented personal experiences from across the country and launched ‘Day One Stories’, an integrated campaign encouraging people to start the conversation around retirement and to pro-actively plan for their own.”
“In 2011, the biggest generation in U.S. history began to retire during the worst recession in a century. So instead of the false promises and intimidation that define the retirement category, we concentrated on one moment that everyone shares: Day One. We asked thousands of people to document their first day of retirement. We received over 5,000 Day One photographs, and they became the faces of a nationwide television and OOH campaign. Next we sent camera crews across America, and created a documentary series about people on their Day One. We put their stories online at www.dayonestories.com and invited others to join the conversation. We even took over NYC’s most prominent billboards and turned them into radio stations that broadcasted stories of New York’s newest retirees. Since it launched, Day One has reached tens of millions of people and touched nearly every medium.”
“Day One has redefined Prudential’s role in the category and has begun to change the national conversation about retirement. More than 250 retirees participated in the campaign, and more than 6,800 photos were submitted. More than eight million people have viewed the three-minute documentaries, and more than one million unique visitors have used the Day One site. In less than a year, Prudential has become exponentially more recognizable and connected to those who need its services most. And hopefully, the millions of people who have been touched by Day One have begun to think more about planning for their own.”
It is also worth noting that Pfizer has recently launched a major US social media campaign to help it learn more about how Americans of all ages are tackling the issue. The ‘Get Old’ site raises “a simple, but profound question” – How do you feel about getting old? The site allows users to share and view stories, photos and videos about getting old, and even vote on how they feel about ageing.
Even if the result of all this is more and better financial services products (Prudential) and new and better drugs (Pfizer), that has to be a good thing. Doesn’t it?
Ten Rules of Marketing for Older Audiences
These ten rules are distilled from our research report, ‘Marketing for Mature Audiences’, which is available upon request (see below). They are not intended to be definitive and your comments and suggestions will be welcomed.
1. There are no ‘golden bullets’ This is a group of people that is too large to ignore, too diverse to stereotype and too complex to second-guess. Make sure your marketing is based upon proprietary consumer insight, not received wisdom.
2. Think of individuals, not groups. Mass marketing is an outmoded concept: so why think of ‘older people’ or ‘the over-50s’ as a single homogenous group?
3. It’s about ageing, not age. This isn’t just about old people, it is about population ageing. This has implications for every business, as your customer profile continues to age.
4. Do not overtly target ‘older people’. We know how old we are, you don’t need to remind us. If you are more subtle and convince us that you meet our needs, we might be interested.
5. Think differently. Old assumptions may no longer apply. For example, while household income declines quite steeply after the age of 50, wealth and expenditure are at their peak for the 50-64 age group.
6. Be more inclusive and less ageist. Many guidelines on marketing for older people assume that physical or mental decline are inevitable. In fact, these are issues which apply to people of all ages and should be addressed by an inclusive approach to all aspects of the marketing mix. Furthermore, many older people are mentally and physically active into their 90s and beyond.
7. Age is relative. Our own age dictates not just when we think ‘youth ends’ and ‘old age begins’ but also our perceptions of the attributes associated with old age. Make sure that your marketing is consumer-driven and not at the mercy of 25 year old marketers or agency staff.
8. Don’t target by generation. Treat ‘generational marketing’ definitions with caution. In the UK, terms such as ‘Baby boomers’ and ‘Generation X’ provide no useful consumer insight and members of such groups share little other than the period in which they were born.
9. Think across age groups. There is almost always more than one age group involved in any purchasing process. An obvious example is the involvement of adult children in the purchase of retirement housing and care homes. The audience for many brands is likely to span different generations, as consumer attitudes, need and interests are seldom shaped by age alone.
10. Walk the talk. If you care about older people so much, why not employ some? And please, think about all aspects of the customer experience, not just your communications.
These ‘rules’ run the inevitable risk of seeming facile and self-contradictory. We welcome your views and would love to discuss any aspect of this subject with you. Better still, if you’re a client company, why not let us apply our ‘rules’ to your business?
About our research
‘Marketing and Mature Audiences’ is a research report which provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject of marketing and older, more mature, audiences in the UK . It provides an interpretative summary of more than 250 data and research sources. The report was written by Mark Beasley of RHC Advantage, with the input of two University Professors. The full report document is available upon request. The main findings of the report form the basis of a 45 minute presentation which we really enjoy making.
About RHC Advantage
RHC Advantage is the UK’s only independent marketing agency specialising in adult, older, more mature audiences. The directors are: Mark Beasley, an experienced marketing consultant and planner, formerly a WPP group agency planning director; Richard Collyer, a successful creative and design consultant; and Tom Wright CBE (non-executive), who is Chief Executive of Age UK, the UK’s largest age-based charity. The agency provides consultancy and creative services to its clients. www.rhcadvantage.co.uk
Retirement? You ain’t see nothing yet…
Thinking of retiring? Good for you – especially if you are one of the increasingly small group of salary-men with a nice fat company pension, or a civil servant (much the same thing). For all of us, the nature of retirement has changed, and will continue to change, as we live longer – and very different – lives to those of our parents. That’s the theme of four apparently unrelated events that have taken placed over the past few weeks, which I have attempted to weave skilfully and seamlessly into one meaningful article.
The first is a think-piece called ‘Retirement in Flux’, published by the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK). This argues – as have others before - that retirement should be a process, not an event, and that older people should expect to work longer and draw upon property wealth to help fund care costs. Pointing out that the concept of work and retirement as we have known them is no longer economically and socially sustainable, David Sinclair of ILC-UK states that: “We need to abandon the idea that people make contributions in their working life in return for support in retirement.”
Meanwhile, a new social enterprise has been launched to help men adjust to life after retirement. Called the After Work Club, this has been launched by that impressive social entrepreneur, Deborah Szebeko. The thinking seems to be that many men, especially professionals, are unprepared for life after full-time employment. In fact, so burned out are these professionals that they apparently need the help of an organisation founded and run entirely by young women…
Two ladies who seem to have made the most of their retirement are Betty Smith (90) and Beryl Renwick (86), who recently won a Sony Gold Award for their BBC Radio Humberside Show. Having won against Frank Skinner on Absolute Radio and Adam and Joe on 6 Music, this is no mean feat.
Meanwhile, Age UK have launched their own radio station, The Wireless. We do not yet know whether Age UK have plans to poach Betty and Beryl – watch this space. However, it seems that older radio DJs and presenters are not that uncommon: the star presenter of The Wireless is David Hamilton, a youthful 73, while Tony Blackburn (69), Bob Harris (66) and Terry Wogan (71) continue to be on top of their game on Radio 2. David Jacobs, presenting until very recently, is one of a number of presenters working well into their 80s.
As the UK’s population continues to age, perhaps ageism - like the statutory retirement age and final salary pensions - will become a thing of the past, as many more older people continue to do what they’re good at well into their later life. Cue the favourite track of Harry Enfield’s legendary DJ creations, Smashy and Nicey – you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Complimentary ‘marketing & mature audiences’ seminar offer
The UK’s ageing population brings marketers many challenges and opportunities. There are now more adults and older people than ever before: a group of people that is too large to ignore, too diverse to stereotype and too complex to second-guess. To help businesses and brands understand what this means for them, rhc advantage is offering a number of two-hour seminars, at no charge.
The first part of the seminar presents a comprehensive overview of the changing marketing environment created by an ageing population, using a wide range of data and research sources. This is based upon the extensive ‘Marketing & Mature Audiences’ research project, carried out by RHC Advantage. The second part of the seminar is a facilitated discussion relating the research findings to specific aspects of the ’host’ business or brand.
The seminar can be held at the RHC Advantage offices in London or Hampshire, or at client offices provided that they are within 100 miles of London. To qualify for the ‘complimentary’ offer, seminars must be booked by 30th May 2012.
Talking ‘bout my generation? Talk to us first
RHC Advantage is the UK’s only independent marketing agency to specialise in the fifty-plus market. The directors are Mark Beasley (planning), Richard Collyer (creative) and Tom Wright CBE (non-executive), who is Chief Executive of Age UK. If you are talking to older audiences , we can help you to gain insight, plan more effective marketing strategies, and create more relevant marketing communications.
Talking ‘bout my generation?
Dust off the starbursts and yellow dayglo - it’s special offer time at rhc advantage!
Let’s face it, we’re all growing older. In fact, there are now more adults and older people than ever before. This is a group of people that is too large to ignore, too diverse to stereotype and too complex to second-guess.
That’s why we formed rhc advantage - the UK’s only independent marketing agency to specialise in the 50+ market. If you’re talking to the over-50s, make sure you talk to us first. We can help you to gain insight, plan more effective marketing strategies, and create more relevant marketing communications.
While we’ve been happily working with our clients, we’ve been ignoring everybody else. In an attempt to rectify that, here are three ways you can check us out for free. But hurry - like all good things, this offer has a closing date.
1. Free Research Presentation
Face the facts, with a complimentary presentation and copy of our research report: Marketing and Mature Audiences. Produced with two University Professors, this unique report draws upon more than 200 data and research sources to provide a comprehensive overview of the changing marketing environment. Ask for the executive summary first, as a taster.
2. Marketing Planning Workshop
Where should you be going and how will you get there? Book a free three-hour planning workshop to explore your options. A summary of how this would operate is readily available.
3. Brand Communications Workshop
If you’re looking for more appropriate, more relevant and more effective creativity for today’s more mature audiences, why not book one of our Brand Communications Workshops? This three hour workshop will help you refine your brand communications strategy. Further
information on this and all our services is available upon request.
If you’re interested in talking to the UK’s fastest-growing consumer group, please
Terms and Conditions
1. All presentations and workshops must be booked by May 30th 2012 and held before July 30th 2012.
2. They can be held at our offices in London or Hampshire, or within a 100 mile radius of London.
The Telegraph CRUISE Show, the largest cruise event in the UK, appoints rhc advantage
The Telegraph CRUISE Show is now offering sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities for non-cruise companies for their forthcoming events at London (Olympia) on March 24-25, Birmingham (NEC) and Glasgow (SECC), in October.
The shows provide a high-quality environment for connecting with a mature, affluent consumer audience and are supported by a heavyweight multi-media advertising, marketing and PR campaign. With a collective audience of over 50,000 visitors, the CRUISE show is the perfect venue for companies to interact face-to face with existing and potential new clients.
Around 20 million people are expected to take cruises in 2012, with Europe and North America accounting for around 86 per cent of worldwide passengers – many of whom are aged over 55.
rhc advantage is the UK’s only independent marketing agency to specialise in older, more mature, audiences. Mark Beasley, managing director, comments “Many over-50’s have the time and money to spend on luxury goods, expensive meals and out-of-season holidays. The Telegraph CRUISE show is the ideal platform for companies wishing to position themselves alongside the world’s leading cruise operators, whilst connecting with mature, affluent and influential consumers in a live environment”
Martin Anslow, managing director and CRUISE show organiser, commented: “You don’t have to be in the travel industry to benefit from being involved with the CRUISE Show. If it is high quality, discerning consumers that you wish to engage with, then our team will work with you to develop the perfect sponsorship platform to meet your objectives”.
Notes to Editors
1. The Telegraph CRUISE Show. The Telegraph CRUISE Show is an established premium consumer event which attracts a high-calibre older audience and the events have been successful in attracting all major cruise operators as exhibitors. In total, approximately 50,000 people attend the three shows, which will operate in the following locations this year: London (Olympia) March 2012, Birmingham (NEC) October 2012 and Glasgow (SECC) October 2012. http://www.cruisingshow.co.uk
2. rhc advantage. rhc advantage is the only independent UK marketing agency to specialise in the increasingly mature audiences resulting from the UK’s ageing population. The directors are Mark Beasley (managing), Richard Collyer (creative) and Tom Wright CBE (non-executive). http://www.rhcadvantage.co.uk
Hospitality industry neglecting over-65s market, says Barclays
There is a major contradiction between the UK hospitality and leisure industry’s attitude towards the over 65 demographic and the actions of the sector, with the majority of operators neglecting this growing market, according to new research from Barclays Corporate. http://www.newsroom.barclays.com/ (29.12.11).
The following article, with quotes from rhc advantage, appeared in http://www.taxdonut.co.uk/ (13.01.12).
Almost two thirds of hospitality businesses are failing to target the over-65s, research by Barclays has found, despite most firms claiming they are tuned in to older audiences. In the Barclays’ survey of 160 senior executives across the industry, 62 per cent admitted they had no specific services or products tailored to the over-65s market – such as special deals or physical facilities including easy access – while eight in ten said they had no plans to start doing so.
However, Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays Corporate, said it was a mistake to overlook the opportunities that a healthier, ageing population represented for firms in the hospitality industry. “Given the level of income the over-65s currently provide to the industry, it would be remiss to ignore investing in a demographic that is expected to grow so significantly in the next few years,” he said.
Changes needn’t be dramatic or expensive, added Saul, with minor adjustments such as targeted marketing campaigns and promotions aimed at older audiences often easy to put in place.
However, British Hospitality Association spokesman Miles Quest said that many existing hotels and restaurants had worked very hard in recent years to capture the older, often high-spending retired market.
“Hotels and restaurants aren’t silly,” he said. “The over-65s often have lots of time and money which they can spend on weekend breaks, expensive meals and out-of-season holidays.
“Smaller independents can struggle to keep up with trends and expensive marketing campaigns compared with the big chains,” added Quest. “But most successful local businesses are very aware of their clientele, including older customers. They are typically close to the ground so they understand their customers and what they want, whether that’s a certain style of menu, pricing or even decor.”
Mark Beasley, managing director of marketing agency RHC Advantage which specialises in older audiences, advised businesses keen to attract an older clientele to make sure that their offer was inclusive.
“All the evidence shows that older consumers dislike being targeted by age,” he said. “But with age comes certain issues – physical mobility or impaired eyesight, for example. Loud music, over-friendly youthful waiting staff, menus with small print and washrooms accessible by staircases, for example, are just some of the ways in which older people can feel alienated. Assess your business and how it works for people over a certain age.”
Why not request our free research report on the subject?
Warmest Christmas wishes from rhc advantage: helping to spread the warmth this Christmas
This Christmas we’re celebrating our first full year as the UK’s only independent marketing agency to specialise in mature audiences.
It’s been a wonderful 12 months and we would like to thank our clients for helping us make our first year so successful.
But not everyone is so fortunate.
That’s why this Christmas we are supporting Age UK’s ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign, which is helping to prevent thousands of older people suffering and dying needlessly in winter because of the effects of cold weather.
There are a number of ways you can also help - for example, you could donate an unwanted warm coat to your nearest Age UK shop or make a donation directly to Age UK.
For further information on the Spread the Warmth campaign,
please visit http://www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/spread-the-warmth.
With warmest wishes for a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year from all of us at rhc advantage.
rhc advantage launches London’s first luxury retirement village
rhc advantage - the specialist marketing agency for mature audiences - has unveiled the launch campaign for Battersea Place, London’s first luxury retirement village.
Battersea Place has been designed to meet the needs of older people living in their own homes in London who want to downsize and plan for their future, but wish to continue living in the city. Located close to Albert Bridge and opposite Battersea Park, it will offer people aged over 60 independent living in stylish, spacious apartments and penthouses, supported by facilities comparable to those of a five-star hotel, including a bar, restaurant, pool and spa. Fully-qualified care staff will be on site 24 hours a day and there will be a nursing home wing.
The company behind Battersea Place is international retirement property specialist, LifeCare Residences. Said Marketing Manager, Amy Baker, “Battersea Place is a unique concept which needs extremely careful positioning. We were looking for an agency who understood today’s complex and sophisticated ageing population and who also had the marketing and creative skills to plan, create and deliver an exceptional campaign. We are delighted with the insight and creativity that rhc advantage has brought to Battersea Place”
The campaign includes brochures, direct marketing and press advertising. Said rhc advantage director, Mark Beasley: “Battersea Place will be an exceptional development in a fantastic location, and very different to other retirement communities in the UK. The people moving here will be wealthy and sophisticated London residents, with very high expectations. We wanted to avoid the usual clichés and stereotypes that are used when communicating with older people.“
Richard Davis, LifeCare’s CEO, comments: “In the UK we have a rapidly increasing ageing population, and in 20 years’ time one-third of all households will be 65 years and over. Currently this mature market own £1 trillion of the UK’s housing assets. As they get older, they will require extensive ongoing care and support, so there is a genuine need for them to downsize and realise their capital assets. This in turn will free up their sought-after old family accommodation for younger generations to utilise.”
rhc advantage launches campaign for charity crossroads care
Marketing agency rhc advantage has launched a campaign for Crossroads Care Slough, the charity which provides care and care related services for people with care needs and their carers. The campaign – called ‘Caring for Slough’ – is intended to encourage everyone in the community to work together more closely to help people with care needs. It includes a relationship marketing initiative with care and health professionals.
The ‘Caring for Slough’ campaign theme has been developed to position Crossroads as the expert authority on care, for people of all ages and health conditions, in the Slough area. It encompasses activity including: press and bus advertising; direct mail; a new suite of printed collateral, including leaflets, posters and brochures; a new website www.sloughcrossroads.org.uk and a new web video.
Commented the charity: “Crossroads Care Slough has now been in Slough for 20 years and is the leading provider of care services in the areas. What we do can make a real difference: not just to our clients, but also to their families – who are often their carers. In some cases, we are able to help people stay at home when they would otherwise be unable to do so – something which is very much in line with Government policy. However, many families with care needs are just not aware that services like this exist. With changes in Government funding, we needed a more professional approach to increasing our presence in the community. We are absolutely delighted with the insight, strategic thinking, creativity and energy that rhc advantage has brought to us.
Commented Mark Beasley of rhc advantage: “When we were approached by Crossroads, we were impressed by the great work being done by a committed team of people, in one of the UK’s most diverse communities, helping people of all ages, disabilities and ethnicity. As a Slough boy myself, who moved away from the area many years ago, it is particularly exciting to have the opportunity to get involved with such a worthwhile project.”
Targeting older people with technical products: the first of an occasional series
I have a confession to make. I’ve just bought a Brennan JB-7, finally succumbing to the ad that has been appearing for some years in Private Eye. A Brennan is a combined CD player and amplifier, the size of a hardback book, which stores up to 5000 CDs digitally. This makes it very easy to find and to play anything from your CD collection, without lots of plastic CD cases lying around.
My assumption is that the Brennan is targeted at people aged over 50, who have some disposable income (it will cost you from £266 to £540) and who love music. They are probably male and have accumulated a lot of unsightly CDs over the past 25 years or so. This is relatively easy to infer from the media schedule, the ads and the website. If you are not familiar with i-tunes, Spotify, music streaming and the like then discovering the Brennan will be like discovering fire, or the wheel.
However, the problem for Brennan, I suspect, is that many of this older audience are very familiar with such things, limiting potential audience size significantly. All the data we have seen tells us that although older people are less likely overall to use technology such as mobile phones and the internet, this is no more than an average. Within the 20-million-plus people over-50, there are some very heavy users and early adopters of technology – the important variables being class, education, income and occupation (not age). Professional middle-class men aged 50-64 are very heavy purchasers and users of ICT, for example. And to many of them, the Brennan is likely to come across as a clunking and outmoded piece of kit – a bit like a brick-size 1980s mobile phone, say.
This brings us to the product. Within the parameters it defines, the Brennan delivers exactly what it promises. It is, as it claims, unique in what it is – but not in the problem it solves. If you still can’t use a VHS player, you will certainly find the Brennan a challenge. However, to the more up-to-date iTunes user, the functionality of the Brennan will seem complex, dated and limited to many. And to transfer your itunes library to the Brennan, you will have to find, download and use software of your own choosing in order to convert the files. When you finally come to play the Brennan, after the tedious uploading process, the sound quality is very good, although the volume is unlikely to disturb the neighbours. It’s easy to find albums and tracks –as long as you remember that they’re there, as there is no ‘library’ to consult. And memory is not something that improves with age, sadly.
There are a number of positives. I am now able to play most of my music collection (iTunes aside) in the living room, without fiddling with an ipod and without the clutter of CDs. The press ad provides an absolute master-class in direct response advertising: it made me believe that this was the best solution to a problem I didn’t really know I had – even though it probably isn’t. However, after-sales service is a mixed bag: excellent support (for example, in answering questions) but a badly devised, written and designed product information booklet which starts with the product in mind, not the user. A constant theme in these reviews, I suspect, will be the poor quality of written product information – something of great value to many of us older people.
There is undoubtedly a market for this product and 10,000 units have already been sold, claim Brennan. However, one can’t help feeling that the Brennan JB7 is a product rooted in the past rather than the future: its primary rationale is to do with storing CDs, a medium which is in steady decline. I await the new-generation internet-enabled Brennan with baited breath – if not the laborious transfer of all my music to it that will be involved.
One of the biggest secrets of ageing…
One of the biggest secrets of ageing is revealed: the so-called ‘Dilnot Report’ (actual title: Fairer Care Funding) is published today (July 4th). This is the report and recommendations made to the UK Government by the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, a body chaired by Andrew Dilnot, a respected economist, statistician and academic.
The Commission was set up by Government as an independent body to make recommendations on how to achieve an affordable and sustainable funding system for care and support, for all adults in England. The most significant group affected by this is the UK’s growing elderly population.
So far, so pedantic, you might think. But I make no apology for spelling out the boring detail: this report is important, it affects all of us, and yet it will pass most people by. In fact, if you’ve read this far, the chances are that you are professionally or personally involved in this issue.
If the report achieves nothing else, it will have highlighted that not only do most people not think about how they will plan and prepare for an extended old age, they also do not even want to think about it. As with individuals, so with society: age, ageing and death remain cultural taboos in the UK, Europe’s most ageist society. It is now that bit harder to bury your head in the sand: one of the biggest secrets of ageing – what happens when you can no longer care for yourself – has now been revealed to a wider audience.
And what happens is this: you will live in a care home, which will be much more expensive than you expected. You will have to pay for it all yourself – and the cost can easily be £50,000 per annum for the rest of your life – unless or until your total assets are below £23,350. You – and your relatives – will only discover the full reality of this at a time when you have no other options. As the report states, the current system is ‘confusing, unfair and unsustainable’.
The report makes a number of visionary recommendations. The two most significant are probably these:
- Individuals contributions towards their social care costs – potentially unlimited at present – should be capped.
- The means-tested threshold should be increased from £23,250 to £100,000.
We will have to wait and see what actions the Government now takes. The total cost of the recommendations is estimated at £1.7bn and the funding considerations include increased taxation, national insurance schemes and private insurance schemes. None of these are likely to be politically attractive.
But one thing’s for sure: the secret is now out. Can you and your family afford to live longer?
Wendy Wu Tours appoints rhc advantage
Wendy Wu Tours, the specialist tour operator, has appointed mature marketing agency, rhc advantage, as its retained brochure design and marketing agency.
Wendy Wu Tours is the UK’s leading independent specialist tour operator to China and a leading operator to Indochina and India. It has appointed rhc advantage to manage the design and marketing of all its brochures, which include separate brochures for China, India and Indochina.
rhc advantage is the UK’s only creative marketing agency to specialise in older, more mature, audiences. Formed by marketing consultant Mark Beasley and creative director Richard Collyer, the agency has recently been strengthened with the appointment of Tom Wright CBE, Chief Executive of Age UK, as non-executive Chairman.
Manuel Mascarenhas, managing director of Wendy Wu Tours, commented: “Most of our customers are aged over 45 and have the time, money and interest to invest in the fantastic travel experience and great value that only Wendy Wu Tours can provide. It is crucial that our brochures reflect the authentic and unique nature of our brand in a way that really inspires our customers and our travel trade partners. We were genuinely impressed with the customer and brand insight that rhc advantage demonstrated – but what really turned us on was their creative vision for the brand, which will be manifested in some of our most stunning brochures yet.”
The first project that rhc advantage will carry out is a ‘mini-brochure’, promoting selected China holidays for 2011, with a ‘fixed price guarantee’. This will be inserted with a number of national consumer titles, and also distributed via the travel trade.
Richard Collyer, creative director of rhc advantage, commented: “We are thrilled to be working with such a great travel brand as Wendy Wu Tours. Many UK operators claim to offer authentic travel experiences, but only Wendy Wu Tours can claim to be owned by someone born in China, with all the unique local knowledge, contacts and access that this implies. This is a brand which can really deliver on its promise and our work will reflect the inspiration, insight and stunning destinations that Wendy Wu Tours can offer.”
Age Myopia. What can we learn from the UK care home crisis?
It has taken a financial crisis at Southern Cross, one of the largest operators, to bring the UK care homes sector to the front pages – which is where it should have been many years ago. At the heart of the media coverage is the alleged ‘unsustainable business model’ of Southern Cross, driven by ‘unacceptable’ private equity and financial engineering practices. However, perhaps of greater significance is the underlying ‘perfect storm’ affecting the care home industry, which exemplifies a number of massively signficant trends related to the UK’s ageing population.
The perfect storm
First of all, I make no apology for spelling out the components of the ‘perfect storm’ surrounding the care home sector. It is clear that for many years, some sort of ‘age myopia’ has ensured that individuals, organisations and society as a whole have been unaware, or chosen to ignore, the following realities.
- Demographics. An increasing number of people will require the services of a care home, as the UK’s population continues to age.
- Who pays? Care and nursing home care is means-tested - the state will only pay if your total assets fall below £23,000. For many individuals, this means the gradual loss of their assets to pay for care.
- How much? When the state does pay, the amount that they will pay care home operators (most of whom are in the private sector) falls below what is required to operate profitably.
- Individual responsibility. It is clear that – as with pensions – most people have failed to make sufficient provision for their old age. However, this argument assumes that (a) most people can afford to save the sums involved, and (b) that they knew it was necessary to do so.
All of this adds up to a situation where demand is increasing, while supply is not. The current mantra has been that most people prefer to stay in their own homes: however, this a little like saying that most people prefer to live forever. We do, but we can’t.
The Southern Cross crisis has increased awareness of these issues, fast. The Government has reacted too, with an independent review into the care system, led by economist, Andrew Dilnot, which is expected to lead to significant legislation later this year. As Paul Burstow, the health minister, has said: ‘Years of sticking plaster solutions have failed to fix social care’.
For social care, read pensions and healthcare.
The main root cause of these problems can be termed ‘age myopia’ – the individual and collective refusal to face up to the realities of age and an ageing population. The UK suffers from it more than most countries: recent research suggested that the UK is the most ageist country in Europe. We also have the highest incidence of family break-up and the lowest level of religious belief. Add to all this a deep-rooted cultural fear of age, ageing and death and, again, you have a perfect storm.
Age Myopia is sometimes manifested as ageism or age discrimination. This is inevitable: when old age is culturally unattractive, youth will be the default option, whether we are employing a TV presenter, hiring a front-desk employee, or selecting models and actresses for advertising work. However, on a more ‘strategic’ level, age myopia means that, individually and collectively, there has been a certain amount denial and inaction regarding age, ageing and what to do about them.
It’s all rather depressing – but it’s not entirely bad news.
Seeing beyond age myopia
Many businesses have yet to adjust to the realities of the ageing population. While no conclusive research exists to prove this broad assertion, my own experience is that all too often, marketing – the GPS of business – continues to be a function carried out by the young, with the young in mind. Yet older people are also consumers and increased alignment by businesses and brands with the needs, wants and preferences of older people would be to the benefit of all involved.
The current median adult age is 45. Taking everyone above that age as being ‘older’, there is a wealth of data (see below) to demonstrate the size and value of the ‘older’ population. This is a complex and diverse group, which requires more sophisticated marketing strategies than are currently used.
Face the Facts
For the facts on the UK’s ageing population, and its implications for marketing, please ask for a copy of our research report. This draws upon more than 200 data sources and is available at no charge to suitable applicants.
To discuss how your business could improve its alignment with the UK’s ageing population, please contact us for a discussion.
News update: all about us, for a change
A client recently pointed out that whenever we met, it was inevitable that we would always talk about the clients’ business, and never our own. This is of course good manners and what consultants are supposed to do. However, she argued, it also means that no-one knows anything much about us. To rectify this damage to our egos, we thought we’d take advantage of the current extended break to bring the world a news update – something about us, for a change. This news update will: remind you who we are; tell you how to get our recently-updated research report, at no charge; and tell you what we’ve been doing lately.
Who did you say you were again?
Launched ‘officially’ last September, rhc advantage is the UK’s only independent creative marketing agency to specialise in older, adult, more mature audiences. The directors are: Mark Beasley, marketing consultant and former WPP group agency planner; Richard Collyer, creative and design consultant; and Tom Wright CBE, Chief Executive of Age UK (non-executive Chairman). We’re supported by a small account management, creative, design and production team based in our converted coaching inn in Hampshire.
We’re here to help our clients deal with the implications of the UK’s ageing population. We believe passionately that improved alignment between business and this large and growing group is long overdue and will benefit to everyone. We work in two complementary areas: marketing consultancy (research and planning) and marketing communications (copywriting, design, direct, digital and promotion).
What do we know? Research report available at no charge
There are now more adults aged over 45 than there under 45. People over 50 account for 80% of wealth and 60% of per capita expenditure. They’re particularly important to a number of consumer markets. Yet there is no easily accessible starting-point for anyone wanting to learn more about this complex and diverse group. That’s why we have produced a research report providing a comprehensive introduction to this important subject, in collaboration with two Professors. This regularly-updated report is available for download or presentation to our clients, friends and other interested parties, at no charge. Click here for more information
What have we been doing?
Adults come in all shapes and sizes! Here are some of our recent projects:
- Educational technology. Research-based proposition development led to campaigns targeted at maths teachers, via direct mail, a website and web video.
- Health clubs. We are researching and planning a new strategy regarding branding and targeting. Not every health club user is young, sleek and photogenic.
- International examinations board. We are using a range of qualitative and quantitative research techniques to help plan and re-define global brand strategy.
- Long-haul tour operator. We are busy designing and writing brochures and mailings. Most long-haul customers are aged over 50 - but reject the Saga stereotype.
- Retirement development. New brand identity, followed by the design, writing and production of a website, a suite of web videos, a brochure and other collateral.
Sponsorship of veteran rock band
We’re pleased to announce our sponsorship of veteran rock band, Route 66. The band performs at the Royal Wedding this Friday (well, a local street party) and further prestigious bookings are lined up. To book the band, please contact us.
Talking ‘bout my generation? Talk to us first…
For more information about us, please visit our website http://www.rhcadvantage.co.uk, subscribe to our blog http://rhcadvantage.blogspot.com, follow us at twitter (@rhcadvantage) or request our online credentials document.
If you – or anyone you know – would like to discuss a specific marketing problem or project, or to see our research report and presentation, please contact me - Mark Beasley on +44 (0)20 7193 2361.Unlike most of the UK, I am working this week!
Tom Wright CBE completes Virgin London Marathon
First of all, many congratulations are due to Tom Wright CBE, who finished yesterday’s Virgin London Marathon – his first – in a little over 5 hours. In the process, Tom raised £7,500 for Age UK (the organisation of which he is Chief Executive).
rhc advantage – helping you take a more strategic view
rhc advantage is here to help businesses who have - or wish to have - a strategic view of the challenges and opportunities presented by the UK’s ageing population. We are the UK’s only independent creative marketing agency to specialise in today’s older, adult, more mature audiences. The directors are: Mark Beasley, marketing consultant and former WPP group agency planner; Richard Collyer, creative and design consultant; and Tom Wright CBE, Chief Executive of Age UK (our non-executive Chairman). We’re supported by a small creative, design and production team.
Why we’re here
The UK population is ageing. We’re here to help our clients deal with the implications of this dramatic change, working in two complementary areas: marketing consultancy (research and planning) and marketing communications (copywriting, design, direct, digital and promotion).
What do we know? Research report available at no charge
Traditional assumptions about age and ageing are inappropriate and ineffective as the basis for marketing planning. Complexity and diversity rule. As a starting point, we have produced a comprehensive, recently updated, introductory research report which can be presented or supplied to our clients, friends and prospects upon request at no charge.
How can we help you?
Tom Wright CBE to run the Virgin London Marathon
Tom Wright CBE, Chief Executive of Age UK, is running in the Virgin London Marathon this Sunday (April 17th).
Along with over 100 other runners, the oldest of whom is 72, Tom is raising funds for Age UK, the charity for ‘a better later life’.
We are keen to support Tom for two reasons. Mainly, because we are committed to the cause ourselves and endorse the work of Age UK. But also because Tom is our (non-executive and unpaid) Chairman.
We’re not sure how Tom has managed to fit in any sort of training schedule, given his relentless schedule of early starts and late finishes. However, we are very confident that he will finish, if not within three hours then certainly the same day. Tom is well on the way to his personal fundraising target of £7,500. To sponsor him, please go to virginmoneygiving.
Why on earth are the elderly so happy?
Over the years, a number of research studies have reported that, contrary to what might be expected, happiness tends to increase with age. Details of some of these are in our research report, currently available upon request. The most recent research findings along these lines are contained in a book by Professor Lewis Wolpert of University College, London, called ‘You’re Looking Very Well’. This contains many fascinating and sometimes personal insights (Wolpert is himself an octagenarian) amongst them the finding that “from the mid-forties, people tend to become ever more cheerful and optimistic, perhaps reaching a maximum in their late seventies or eighties.” One is forced to ask: why? Aren’t our expectations of the ageing process associated with financial problems, health worries, loneliness and the increasingly imminent arrival of the grim reaper? Not to mention the dismal way in which the elderly are treated by many business and organisations.
Reasons not to be cheerful. 1,2,3
Just yesterday morning, our local BBC radio station carried an interview with an elderly lady who had apparently spent much of her weekend lying on a trolley in a hospital corridor, awaiting attention. This confirmed the recent findings of Ann Abraham, the Health Service Ombudswoman, (February 2011) who found serious failings in “even the most basic standards of care” for the elderly in our hospitals. She also noted an “attitude – both personal and institutional – which fails to recognise the humanity and individuality of the people concerned.” This will resonate with the personal experience of many of us. Because the ‘attitude’ detected by Ms. Abraham is not unique to hospitals – it is endemic in most organisations, where employment, procurement, marketing and customer service continue to discriminate against older people. Here are not three, but four examples:
- Unemployment amongst people aged 50-65 is much higher than it is for people under 50 and continues to increase. The chances of re-employment are low – yet organisations as diverse as McKinsey and the OECD state that a longer working life is essential for individuals and society. But why extend the retirement age when most people will have ‘retired’ involuntarily long before it?
- In January, the Department of Work and Pensions released research pointing out that 10 million Britons now alive (that’s 17% of us) can expect to live to the age of 100. For many, this will mean relying on an inadequate pension for more than 30 years, with the fear of joining the 2.3 million people aged over 65 who (according to Age UK) already live in poverty.
- And as longevity is increasing faster than disability-free old age, there is a very good chance that more and more of us will need to move into a care or nursing home. If you live in England, you will have to fund this yourself if you have assets of more than £23,250. As care can easily cost between £800 - £1200 per week, your assets will rapidly go into freefall.
Customer service in many organisations fails to make any allowance for the basic ageing process. As ever, the lack of Godliness is in the details. The bank which asks an 88 year old lady who had been admitted to a nursing home on the point of collapse to ‘just pop into your local branch’ to verify her change of address. The call centres which conspire to confuse, with their impenetrable telephone menus and accents. The confusion pricing strategies of energy and telecoms suppliers. Happy? Elderly people have every reason to be furious!
It’s not simply about age
The answer to the conundrum is to be found in the fact that, as our own research report repeatedly finds, age alone is an unreliable variable in just about any aspect of consumer attitude or behaviour. People do not conform to stereotype and resent being defined or targeted by age. In fact, age accelerates the impact of other variables, which are almost certainly in place long before ‘old age’ becomes a fact. The main variables are these: education, income, occupation, social class and disability. It is safe to assume that their impact is at least as powerful as that of age, although the importance of psychological factors should also be noted.
For while the elderly may be happy on average compared with other age groups, that happiness is almost certainly not evenly distributed within each age band, in the same way that (say) wealth and expenditure are not evenly distributed. So it is not too surprising to find that more extensive and thorough research (1) (as opposed to, say, the facile ad hoc surveys used by Financial Services companies to generate media coverage) finds that happiness is closely associated with wealth: itself directly related to education, income, occupation and social class. For example, the ELS (1) reported that, based on tracking 10,000 people since 2002, ‘more affluent individuals have fewer depressive symptoms, greater life satisfaction, better quality of life and lower levels of loneliness.” It is a sobering but not altogether surprising fact that happiness is as much associated with wealth as it is with old age.
1. The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing is an interdisciplinary data resource on health, economic position and quality of life as people age. ELSA is the first study in the UK to connect the full range of topics necessary to understand the economic, social, psychological and health elements of the ageing process. The aim of ELSA is to explore the unfolding dynamic relationships between health, functioning, social networks and economic position. It is in effect a study of people’s quality of life as they age beyond 50 and of the factors associated with it. Further details are at:
Today’s Budget. WPP to join rhc advantage?
WPP to return to UK?
Martin Sorrell, founder and chief executive of WPP, is widely quoted as saying that today’s Budget could pave the way for WPP – the world’s largest marketing, advertising and research group - to return to the UK. WPP relocated its tax base from London to Dublin, Ireland in September 2008, following a hike in the rate of UK corporation tax to become more than double that of Ireland’s.
This is good news all round - not least for Sir Martin, who is surely now destined to become Lord Sorrell.
A great place for your marketing budget
Of course, rhc advantage – possibly the UK’s smallest marketing, advertising and research group – has remained in the UK since we opened our doors last year. And we very much look forward to being able to pay UK corporation tax, as it will mean that we will have declared a profit.
With this laudable objective in mind, may we remind the world that now would be a very good time for potential clients to contact us. More and more people are realising that marketing for an ageing population is something that applies to most businesses, not a few. And we now have an impressive track record of research, insight, creativity and copywriting to support our claims on client budgets!
Ageism in marketing? Not at rhc advantage!
On a separate note, the Institute of Practitioners of Advertising (IPA) also cautiously welcomed today’s Budget. It noted that advertising and media agencies, “being people-based businesses with a high proportion of young staff”, should welcome the easing of the personal tax burden at the junior end, stipulated in the Budget. As their own annual survey shows, around 50% of IPA agency staff are aged under 30, with just 5% over 50. This is somewhat at odds with the realities of an ageing population and this youth-centric approach could help explain why ageism in marketing continues to be an issue.
Prospective clients should note that a more balanced approach to employee age is taken at rhc advantage. With an MD the wrong side of 50, and our first graduate recruit in her early twenties, an age neutral approach rules - exactly as you might expect.
65 over 65. 65 famous people who turn 65 this year
I was recently castigated for saying that ‘If you’re old enough to remember the sixties, the chances are that you’re at least sixty.’
Of course, it’s true that people in their forties and above also remember the sixties. But to have been at the cutting edge of the sixties pop culture of fashion, music and sexual revolution, there’s a good chance that you were at least 16 in 1967 - making you at least 60 this year.
And if you were at the leadership end of that culture, you will almost certainly be older than that.
Even so, I was still more than a little surprised to find that all of the following were born in 1946 – the first year of the post-war ‘baby boom’ - and will therefore celebrate their 65th birthday this year.
I never thought that so many of my heroes, role-models and (dare I say it) pin-ups would be so old. See if a shiver runs down your spine too! Here are our ’65 who are 65’.
John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin, more recently ‘Them Crooked Vultures’ and also currently performing at Covent Garden in ‘Anna Nicole)
Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
Timothy Dalton (Bond)
Ray Dorset (long side-burned Mungo Jerry frontman)
Tim Curry (of the Rocky Horror Show)
Graham Gouldman (10cc)
Dave Mason (Traffic)
Paul Smith (fashion)
Robert Fripp (King Crimson)
Lewis Collins (Professionals)
Barry Gibb (BeeGees)
Dee Dee Wilde (Pans People)
Justin Hayward (Moody Blues)
Benny Andersson (ABBA)
Vikki Hodge (model)
Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac)
Jane Birkin (je t’aime)
Peter Lorimer (Leeds)
Roy Wood (Wizzard)
Lesley Judd (Blue Peter)
Brian Patten (Liverpool poet)
Robby Krieger (the Doors)
Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacy)
Cher Candice Bergen
George W Bush
Richard Carpenter (the Carpenters)
Ilie Nastase (tennis)
Debbie Moore (Pineapple)
Tommy Lee Jones
Ian Lavender (of ‘stupid boy’ fame)
Thank you to Saga magazine for this information.
The point of publishing this is to remind you of two things. First, that the UK population is ageing, and second, that so-called ‘older people’ do not conform to stereotype or prejudice.
rhc advantage to present at Chartered Institute of Marketing event this week
If you’re in Cambridge on Tuesday evening (February 8th) then we look forward to seeing you at the following event organised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Marketing and older people - Addressing the opportunities and challenges of the UK’s ageing population
Speaker: Mark Beasley, managing director of rhc advantage
CPD Hours: 1.5
110 Fulbourn Road
The ageing UK population is one of the most significant issues that businesses have to address. According to the Economist, ‘this is a slow-moving but relentless development that in time will have vast economic, social and political consequences.’
There are already more adults aged over 45 than under 45, and more pensioners than there are children.
Older people are a large, growing and high value segment. Yet businesses continue to waste money by focusing on younger people, or by targeting older people in inappropriate and ineffective ways. This presentation provides information, insight, and clear direction for marketers interested in this complex and diverse segment.
The presentation is based upon an extensive research report carried out by RHC Advantage, directed by one University Professor (Dr David Gilbert, Professor of Marketing at the University of Surrey) and reviewed by another (Dr Paul Sweeting, Professor of Actuarial Science at the University of Kent). The research document upon which the presentation is based draws from more than 200 sources and is the most authoritative report on this subject available in the UK. This will be made available to all attendees.
Mark Beasley BSc MCIM MBA is managing director of RHC Advantage, the creative marketing agency specialising in adult, mature and older audiences. This was launched in September 2010.
Mark has 30 years experience of planning and managing successful marketing and communications programmes, working with more than 100 client companies, in most markets and sectors.
Registration is from 18:00; the event begins at 18:30 and finishes at 20:00.
Studying Member: £15.00
Please contact the events team with any special requirements.
Alternative Pay Details: Please book online for this event via http://www.cim.co.uk. If you cannot do so please call The Chartered Institute of Marketing on +44 (0)1628 427340.
Contact: Region and Branch Events
The World Economic Forum on the ageing population
The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum starts tomorrow (January 26th) in Davos. Once again, my invitation seems to have been lost in the Christmas post. And unlike many politicians, I did actually study Economics at University.
However, the world’s movers and shakers will be moving and shaking together - in between the skiing and the parties - as they wrestle with some fairly weighty matters. And I don’t just mean the wine list.
A report, ‘Global Risks 2011’, has been published ahead of the meeting. This makes the point that the world’s most advanced economies, including the UK, would be insolvent if they accounted properly for the pension and health pledges made to their ageing populations.
We are of course aware of the serious implications that an ageing population has at a macro-economic level. However, to see the issue presented in such stark terms makes for uneasy reading. If you can face more, you can download the report at www.weforum.org/globalrisks2011.
And if you would like to see this put into the context of marketing, why not read our own report - Marketing for an Ageing Population. This draws on more than 200 sources to provide an eminently readable introduction to the subject. It is available at no charge, subject to our approval of your request. See our insights for more information.
Intern position available at rhc advantage
Whether or not we agree with David Willets that we baby boomers have stolen our children’s future, we do feel that it is no bad thing to offer a helping hand to recent graduates, who - we are told - face chellenging times.
Having said that, we posted this position on the Government website, Graduate Talent Pool, over a week ago, and have yet to receive a single reply.
Nevertheless, here is our attempt to reach out across the inter-generational divide. Graduates of any age are of course very welcome!
Employer: rhc advantage limited. You would also work with our associate company, rhc visual strategy, based at the same premises.
Job title: Account Executive
Closing date: 14/02/2011
Job categories: Advertising, Design & Marketing
Paid / unpaid: Paid
Salary: £15,000 per annum pro rata
Job description: Reporting directly to a director, you will act as an account executive, taking responsibility and providing support for anything that needs doing to keep the agency running.
This could include working on client projects, helping with new business development, liaising with our creative team, partners and suppliers, and working on professional marketing and research projects.
The role is for a fixed period of three months. If the successful candidate impresses, we will consider making this a permanent role.
You will work with experienced professionals, gain insight into how a marketing agency operates, work on some real live marketing projects, and enhance your CV.
Degree requirements: An honours degree, which has included marketing
Location(s): The position will be based at our attractive offices – a converted coaching inn – located at 113, High Street, Odiham, Hampshire RG29 1LA
Full-time/part-time: Full-time position
Start date: Immediate
Duration: 3 months and extendable into a permanent role if successful
- A graduate whose course has included marketing
- Graduate level literacy, numeracy and IT capabilities (i.e. MS Office suite)
- Personal qualities - positive, enthusiastic and resourceful
- Experience - a demonstrable service ethos
- MUST be able to travel to and from our office in Odiham under your own steam
- Age is not an issue
- An excellent standard of spoken and written English is required, but this need not be your first language
Has ageism finally come of age?
Former BBC presenter Miriam O’Reilly this week won an employment tribunal against the BBC on the grounds of ageism. Does this so-called ‘landmark victory’ herald a tipping point in the engrained ageist culture and practices of many organisations – not just the BBC, but business generally?
The 53-year-old claimed she had been unfairly dropped from the ‘Countryfile’ show when it moved to a primetime Sunday evening slot in April 2009. The tribunal heard that O’Reilly had been asked if it was “time for Botox” and was warned to be “careful with those wrinkles when high definition comes in”.
This victory is obviously good news for all of us who believe that a continued focus on youth – not just in the media, but in business and marketing – is not just an issue of fairness, but one of poor economic judgement. As the UK population continues to age, the epicentre for almost any business is no longer younger people: in fact, the median age of UK adults is now 45.
Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, has said the outcome sent out “a powerful signal that even in the youth-worshipping world of showbusiness, age discrimination can be withstood”. After all, O’Reilly is only one of a number of female TV presenters who have been sidelined with age – for example, Joan Bakewell and Selina Scott have also challenged the BBC on its attitudes to older women.
But why stop there?
Take advertising, for example. The IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) is due to release its annual agency survey later this month. There is no reason to suppose that this year will be any different to previous years – 50% of agency employees are aged under 30, while just 5% are aged over 50. That this is the result of an ageist culture and practices is undeniable and it can only contribute to an increased schism between many of the larger agencies and the needs of their clients.
In the same week that an 18 year old was jailed for two years for throwing a fire extinguisher off a roof, have we witnessed a tipping point in societal attitudes to age? Probably not, but it’s a significant step in the right direction.
For the facts on the UK’s ageing population, and what marketers should do about it, ask for a free copy of our comprehensive research report.
ILC (UK) publish ‘Golden Economy’ report
A new research project has recently been published by the ILC-UK (International Longevity Centre). The report - ‘The Golden Economy - The Consumer Marketplace in an Ageing Society’ - assesses the market potential of the older consumer and suggests how companies could make more of this population.
The report provides a useful introduction to the subject and is based upon a thorough study of the available sources. For anyone who is familiar with the subject, there is some ‘new news’ – additional sources to support a particular point, for example – but no revelations. And for people new to the subject, it is of course a useful introduction.
However, what is most significant about the report is what it does not, and cannot, say. As the report itself says, ‘There are significant research gaps in relation to the older consumer.’
One of these gaps concerns business and marketing activity relative to older consumers. Many of us are keen to state, for example, that despite the size and value of the ‘older’ market, “some 90% of marketing spend is directed at younger people” (as one commentator recently did). However, the evidence base for this assertion is weak, to say the least (I think it comes from an old Datamonitor report). And to be honest, I am not even sure what methodology one might employ to produce this statistic.
The ‘Golden Economy’ report contains much that is admirable. However, in the key area of marketing activity and spend directed at older people it remains delightfully vague. For example, consider the statement (from the report) that: ‘there remains a strong view that across a wide range of industries, the older consumer continues to be ignored or patronised, despite the size and value of the market’. I agree, but that’s just my opinion, not a research finding. In fact, this statement does not stand up to much analysis at all. What does a ’strong view’ mean? Across which industries? How do you measure concepts such as ‘ignored’ and ‘patronised’? Are these subjective or objective measures? This statement is an informed opinion, but it is a long way from being a definitive research-based ‘fact’.
This is not intended as a criticism of the report, but to highlight a gap in the available research literature. It is up to those of us concerned with providing older people with a better deal to provide much more powerful evidence to support our case. Rhetoric and unsupported assertions are not good enough.
You can find out more about our own comprehensive research report, Marketing and Mature Audiences which was written by marketers for marketers, and we are happy to present top line findings to interested parties.
The ‘Golden Economy’ report is written from more of a third sector and public affairs standpoint – not surprising as it was produced in association with Age UK – and is available on the ILC-UK website
The economic challenges of an ageing population: McKinsey join the debate
McKinsey have just released a report which stresses the importance to the UK of taking radical action to address the challenges of an ageing population.
The report, ‘From Austerity to Prosperity: Seven Priorities for the Long Term in the United Kingdom’, was published on November 22nd. It states that there are good prospects for UK economic growth, provided that there is a step change in action on seven fronts, including innovation, productivity – and generational imbalances.
The report adds further weight to our own position, which is that population ageing is one of the most significant issues for business and society, and requires new thinking and new approaches as a matter of some urgency. With support from the consultancy described as a ‘breeding ground for gurus’ and ‘the world’s most prestigious consulting firm’, we feel we now have powerful allies!
The McKinsey report focuses on two challenges faced by major developed economies like the UK. The first of these is the issue of how to maintain growth in the face of a declining working population; the second is rising health care costs and the funding of long-term care (where demand is estimated to increase by 70% over the next 20 years). While pointing out that the UK is leading the way in Europe with regard to addressing the implications of changing demographic and retirement patterns, further progress is required, says the report.
McKinsey make recommendations in two main areas. First, ‘a radical increase in older working’ is required, which builds on the practices of innovative firms in this area. Second, they recommend that the £1 trillion of unmortgaged housing wealth must be unlocked, via improved policies, practices and products, to enable older people to fund their care and health needs.
The report states that it is ‘intended to challenge existing orthodoxies’, something we support fully. Marketing is – or should be – the leader of change in this area. Too often, however, it is constrained by short-term business thinking and outmoded ageist assumptions. There are some great case histories – but too many businesses fail to recognise and address this inescapable and unprecedented demographic trend.
Here’s three ways we can help you move forwards. As a starting point, our unique research report provides a comprehensive overview on most aspects of Marketing and the Ageing Population. Produced with the input of two University Professors, it draws upon more than 200 sources.
Secondly, why not book one of our ‘Age Advantage’ workshops? These are intended to kick-start the thinking of your team on how your organisation should address the issue of population ageing. And finally, perhaps you’d just like to have a mature conversation about a specific problem or project.
To move out of an economic downturn requires innovation – and re-aligning your business or brand against demographic change is a very good place to start.
You can contact me, Mark Beasley on 07712 137603
To find out more about rhc advantage and our research report, click here
To download the McKinsey report, visit www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications
Research Report Highlights the Facts and Fiction of Marketing To Mature Audiences
A new research report promises to offer an invaluable one-stop source of vital information for marketers targeting today’s older, more mature, audiences. The impact of the UK’s ageing population is increasingly recognised by marketers, yet many lack a consistent and planned approach to targeting this diverse group, concludes the research by specialist agency, rhc advantage.
The agency, which claims to be the UK’s only creative marketing agency to specialise in consultancy and integrated marketing communications for mature audiences, has been strengthened with the appointment of Tom Wright CBE, Chief Executive of Age UK, as non-executive Chairman.
The research report, ‘Marketing and Mature Audiences’, is released on Friday (1 October 2010) and has been produced by rhc advantage. It is based upon the analysis and interpretation of over 200 data and research sources. It provides an authoritative and comprehensive introduction to the UK’s ageing population and its consequences for marketers, and in the process separates fact from fiction. It was produced in collaboration with two University Professors. According to the agency, there is no definitive UK-based text on the subject.
Mark Beasley, managing director of rhc advantage, said: “The UK population is ageing at an unprecedented rate. Traditional concepts of age and ageing are increasingly outmoded and ineffective as a basis for marketing planning. Our report will help marketers by providing information, insight and understanding of this complex and diverse audience, which will in turn drive more informed marketing planning and communications.”
The changes in the UK population structure are dramatic. There are already more adults aged over 45 than there are aged under 45, and the over-65s is the fastest-growing demographic group of all. Despite this, according to the report, only global brands like Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble and Unilever and specialists in older consumers such as Saga and Stannah, appear to have a clear strategy for addressing the realities of the UK’s ageing population.
Commented Wright: “To meet the current and future needs of the UK’s ageing population, it is important that the issues and opportunities associated with older people are communicated on the broadest possible platform. It is particularly important that this is done from a marketing perspective and I believe that many businesses, brands and organisations will benefit from the insight and expertise that rhc advantage brings to the mature market.”
The agency provides both consultancy and marketing communications services. Mark Beasley commented: “It is absolutely crucial that not only are we able to help organisations to gain insight and to plan, but that we are also able to help them execute. We believe that our creative expertise enable us to deliver exceptional branding, design and integrated marketing communications solutions.”
Baby Boomers. No-one likes us, we don’t care
2010 has seen the publication of number of books blaming the so-called ‘Baby Boomer’ generation for a multitude of sins. The general argument is summarised by Robert Colville, writing in the Telegraph (September 1st): “Via demographic accident and bloody-minded selfishness, the Baby Boomers have come to monopolise the country’s wealth, politics and culture…leaving their children nothing but debt.”
This debate started earlier in the year, with launch of ‘The Pinch – How the Baby Boomers Stole their Children’s Future’ by David Willetts – now a Government Minister. This is, overall, a well-argued and interesting economic and social discourse (as you’d expect from someone with the nickname ‘Two Brains’). However, the argument gets taken into the realms of inter-generational warfare with a new book called ‘Jilted Generation’, by Ed Howker and Shiv Malik. And it sounds like other books on the subject out around now share a similar theme - ‘What did the Baby Boomers Ever Do For Us’ by Francis Becket, and ‘It’s all their Fault’ by Neil Boorman.
On the face of it, there is a very good case to be made. The facts are, apparently, undeniable. A large number of people (how many, it’s not clear) within a certain age group (i.e. those currently aged 46 – 65) have benefited from educational and social mobility, generous pension schemes, and property inflation. However, these conditions do not now exist to anything like the same extent, meaning that those younger than 46 will not benefit in anything like the same way as we ‘Baby Boomers’. Furthermore, the Government has created unprecedented levels of debt which it will take the State many years to pay off. And all the time, like a ticking bomb, the population continues to age, meaning a smaller proportion of the population working away to pay for it all.
And who or what is responsible for all this? The so-called Baby Boomers themselves, according to these writers, that’s who. And that’s where I disagree. It is an undeniable fact that there was a peak in birth rates between 1945 and 1964, creating a so-called ‘baby boom’. It is also the case that, overall, fings ain’t what they used to be for people younger than this. But I disagree with just about everything else. Here is my case:
1. There is no such group as ‘Baby Boomers’ in the UK. Everyone currently aged between 46 and 65 shares a period of time. Period. This group does not share a common set of attitudes, behaviours and lifestyle characteristics. Importantly, it does not have a shared identity: I have never heard anyone in the UK call themselves a ‘Baby Boomer’. People of this age group are as complex and diverse as any other age group, by any criteria you care to apply. The concept of ‘Baby Boomers’ originated in the USA, with a very different economic and social history - and as far as I’m concerned, it stays there.
2. It is undeniable that many people of this age group have benefited disproportionately from an extremely fortunate set of economic and social circumstances. However, to label an entire age group as having done so is to deal in averages, a weak statistical basis for any argument. For example, more than 30% of people aged 50-65 are unemployed. More than 50% of people in this age group are worried about how they will support themselves in retirement. Many are disabled, disadvantaged and poor – as in other age groups. It is true that some people are very wealthy – but so are people in other age groups. There are just more of them aged 46-65.
3. Because there is no such self-defined group as ‘Baby Boomers’, it is illogical to suggest that this ‘group’ acting together against an explicit or implicit agenda was somehow responsible for the set of circumstances we now find ourselves in. Some of the people responsible may fit within this age group (Tony Blair, say) but many others do not – the whole of the massively influential Thatcher Government, for example. And in any case, is the situation we now find ourselves in mainly attributable to UK-based individuals or groups of people? What about globalisation and the massive changes it has exerted on so many of our old assumptions and certainties? And isn’t this as much about attitudes to education, family and social mobility – which are not defined by age.
And if there were any truth in the idea that a whole group of people born at the same time had deliberately disadvantaged the next generation, would I care? Well I’ll tell you – but first, let me change out of my yellow polyester golf slacks, go jogging and cycling along the seafront with my still-very-attractive wife, both smiling inanely and displaying immaculate white teeth. then drive my sports car back home to my gated community, put on some smart leisure clothing, and chuckle genially with my extended family. Then I’ll tell you…
Some great advertising from Coca-Cola
Avid readers of this blog will recall that last November – before we launched this business – we posted a piece about Coca-Cola’s plans to target older consumers
Here’s an example of what they did in the USA.
Watching is highly recommended! Forget analysis - on an emotional level, this just works. (In fact, on what other level could a TV commercial for Coca-Cola work?).
As our research report notes, global marketing-led businesses such as P&G and Unilever – and Coca-Cola – are way ahead of the curve on the subject of marketing and older consumers.
To discuss how we could help you improve your relationship with the UK’s fastest-growing demographic segment, call 020 7193 2361.
And here’s what we reported back in November…
Coca-Cola to target older audiences
Coca-Cola is to target older consumers as part of a bid to double its revenue by 2020, according to a report in Marketing Week today.
Coca-Cola chairman and chief executive, Muhtar Kent, is reported as saying that the company was “laser-focused” on targeting the right consumers with fully integrated global marketing campaigns that work on many levels.
By 2020, the company says that the world will look very different, so targeting the “right consumers” will include a renewed focus on older, wealthier consumers.
As our report on Marketing and Older Audiences (available upon request) found, the marketing planning processes of most companies do not take the long-term, gradual nature of population change into account. Only the most marketing-led businesses, such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever, have done this – leading to successful global brands like Olay and Dove.
We will watch this space with interest…
rhc advantage joins Race Online 2012
rhc advantage is now an Official Partner of Race Online 2012, the campaign to increase internet usage in the UK. Led by Martha Lane Fox, who was appointed UK Digital Champion by David Cameron in June, Race Online 2012 aims to get as many people as possible online by the end of the Olympic Year, and everyone of working age by 2014.
Martha launched the ‘Manifesto for a Networked Nation’ on July 12th. This can be downloaded at www.raceonline2012.org and the key points are summarised below:
- Internet use declines with age – which is why we’re involved. However, it’s not as simple as that - “the links between social disadvantage and internet non-use are strong” and the key factors are age, health, employment and income.
- Non-users of internet include: 45% of people aged 65-74; 48% of people with disabilities; 50% of people where household income falls below £11,500; and 75% of people aged over 75.
- The 10 million people in the UK who have never been online are said to be missing out in a number of ways. They will become increasingly isolated and disadvantaged as ‘digital’ becomes the main channel for access to private and public sector services.
- An ‘overwhelming’ economic and social case for a ‘networked nation’ is made (by PWC).
Digital exclusion is not simply about age. For example, other studies have found that 88% of ABs aged 55-64 (but only 29% of DEs) use the internet, and that 93% of people aged over 70 with a degree use the internet.
And encouragingly, it is now older people who are driving the growth in internet usage. UKOM (Nielsen) found that 1 million of the 2 million new users (y/e May 2010) were people aged 50-64, an age group which now accounts for 25% of all internet users (but only 15% of the population).
Once again with marketing and older people, it comes down to that old marketing mantra, STP (segmentation, targeting and positioning).
To request a copy of our recently updated 100-page research report on marketing and older people, please complete the online contact form
Is the advertising industry ignoring older people?
Campaign magazine - the main advertising industry rag - recently published two articles about advertising and older people. In essence, these said that the advertising industry did not communicate well with the ‘over-50s’ - the verdict being: ‘could do better’.
Our letter in response to these articles is below:
The two articles in Campaign regarding advertising and older people by Paul Kitcatt (02 July) and John Tylee (09 July) make a number of interesting and important points. Yes, advertising (and marketing) has yet to align itself fully with the ageing population. Yes, it is the case that, overall, people aged over 50 have a disproportionate amount of wealth (and more importantly, of expenditure). And as Hamish Pringle, the Director General of the IPA has said, ‘adland is way out of line in terms of age’.
However, much as I enjoyed the articles, they also highlight the lack of clarity that surrounds this subject. First, what market are we talking about, exactly? The articles use a variety of terms, including: ‘baby boomers’, ‘the grey market’, ‘mature consumers’, ‘the mature market’’, ‘old people’, ‘older consumers’, and the ‘over -50s’. Confused? Well, at least ‘the over-50s’ makes an arbitrary line in the sand. This imprecision aside, is it helpful to perpetuate the idea that this vast number of people should be regarded as a single segment or market, a massive ghetto defined by age?
And perhaps it is misleading to suggest that advertisers are missing out on a group which - Paul seems to suggest - is not only older, but also richer, smarter and wiser than younger people. Some older people are indeed fabulously wealthy, others (over 2 million, according to Age UK) live in poverty. Many others (more than 50%, according to some studies) have inadequate pension provision, while more than 30% of people between 50 and retirement age are unemployed (not all of them advertising executives).
For most people, cognitive (and physical) decline are still inevitable facts of ageing (despite the book Paul refers to), so any intellectual superiority is unfortunately not necessarily sustainable long-term. The fastest-growing population segment is now the over-65s, as the ‘baby boom’ cohort ages. Many of this age group will not be richer, smarter or wiser – but will still be large enough in volume and value terms to be of interest to advertisers. This suggests that we need to move on from generalised (and unrealistic) views of a wealthy baby-boom generation to a more realistic understanding of the UK’s ageing population.
Our business – rhc advantage – is a new marketing communications agency for clients interested in adult and older audiences. We have produced, with the aid of two University Professors, a comprehensive review of the many different issues related to marketing and older people. This is available at no charge via our website (http://www.rhcadvantage.co.uk). Hurry, before we join the graveyard of such agencies referred to in John’s article!
Thank you for raising the subject, John and Paul. I am willing to take part in forming an industry group to move forward some of these issues, if you or anyone reading this is interested.
Mark Beasley, Director - rhc advantage
rhc advantage brings Maths Alive for Texas Instruments
rhc advantage have launched a direct and digital marketing campaign for Texas Instruments Education Technology division.
The campaign launches the new TI-Nspire product to maths and science teachers in secondary schools across the UK.
TI-Nspire is a flexible ICT platform with the potential to transform the way students explore and learn maths. It does this via fully compatible handheld and software versions, to suit different teaching and learning needs.
Sounds complicated? ‘Once you’ve seen TI-Nspire in the classroom, you soon realise that it is an absolutely fantastic product which really does inspire students and teachers’, explains Mark Beasley, managing director of rhc advantage. ‘The problem is that it is extremely difficult to explain in a few words.’
For this reason, rhc advantage carried out research with teachers before devising a communications strategy, leading to the core creative concept that ‘TI-Nspire brings maths to life’.
The campaign had three main elements, all created by rhc advantage: a mailing, a website and a video. First, a mailer was sent to maths and science teachers and department heads. This aimed to direct them to a website, www.nspiringlearning.org.uk, which prominently features an introductory video showing TI-Nspire in classroom action. The website also explains the features and benefits of the product in detail, features other videos showing different aspects of the product, and has a number of calls to action, including a trial offer of the product.
Beasley points out that in this case, the rhc advantage proposition of ‘marketing for older audiences’ relates to teachers. ‘We are keen to work with clients targeting adult audiences - and this need not just mean people of retirement age. Adults tend to prefer communications which focus on understanding and meeting needs, delivering benefits and providing information - which is exactly what this TI campaign does. It’s worth noting that many marketing messages are inter-generational - in this case it’s about helping teachers to inspire students, in other cases it might mean middle-aged people helping their parents to choose a retirement home.’
Concludes Beasley, ‘There’s no doubt that if you’re a maths or science teacher, you’ll be inspired by what you see. That’s why the video plays such a central role in making the benefits of a relatively complex product seem so immediate and obvious – TI-Nspire really does bring maths to life.’
For further information, please contact Mark Beasley at rhc advantage - 01256 704070
Older, Smarter…and French
This blog has been off the air for a few weeks and apologises to our many readers around the world. One of the reasons for this – apart from pressure of work, of course – is that information about matters related to older people is becoming increasingly prevalent. There is no point in simply re-circulating what is already in the public domain, so we haven’t.
Having said that, here’s a quick summary of a few things from the past few weeks that we think are worthy of comment.
Lower taxes. The threatened increase in Capital Gains Tax to 40% did not take place, for whatever reasons (a compromise between appeasing the LibDems and the City, one imagines). An increase to 40% would have affected the many older people depending upon investments to support themselves. 28% seems generous by comparison.
More work. The state retirement age is due to increase to 66 for men – but not until 2016 – and to 68 in 2040. For women, it will increase to 66 in 2018. Not too surprising when one considers that the number of people aged over 65 will increase by 50% between 2008 and 2033. For many poorer people this will mean another year or more of low paid work if they are lucky enough to have a job, and another year of unemployment for the many people aged 50-65 who do not have a job. When the retirement age was set at 65 in 1940, the average life expectancy was 60 – not over 80 as it is now.
What does ‘old’ really look like? Stereotypes of what it really means to be ‘old’ continue to be eroded – slowly. Ringo Starr and Tom Jones have just celebrated their 70th birthdays. And Myrrha Stanford-Smith, 82, has signed a three-book publishing deal. Her first novel, ‘The Great Lie’ was published last week.
‘Silver surfers’ live! Research by Nielsen has been announced, showing that increased usage of the internet has been driven by people over 50. In fact, people aged 50-64 account for 25% of all internet users – but less than 15% of the total population. And yes, the newspapers reporting this cannot wait to use the hackneyed phrase ‘silver surfer’ – a redundant stereotype, surely. I know many people over 50 who use the internet – but few if any have grey or silver hair.
Grumpy old men are no more. Several pieces of psychological research have been publicised, suggesting that people get nicer as they get older. Research by Professor Karen Fingerman found that younger people are more aggressive and confrontational than older people, who in turn are more forgiving and friendly. Perhaps grumpy old men are an endangered species (although I still know a few).
Our research presentation is on the road. Our presentation – Marketing and Older People – has now been presented to a number of the UK’s leading organisations. Based upon our comprehensive research report, drawing on more than 150 sources, this presentation is now a tour de force of slickly presented information, generously interspersed with finely-honed ad libs and bon mots. Book your presentation now, while we’re still on tour.
Older, Smarter…and French. And while we’re talking French, McKinsey have published a report on what population ageing means for France. Their research found three inter-related major trends reaching a tipping point and fundamentally transforming the country: an ageing population, changing household types and economic factors slowing the expansion of wealth. All of this means that the average French household in 2030 will be older, better educated and less wealthy than the average household today. This mirrors the findings of our own research in the UK – to book your presentation or read the report, email rhc advantage or call 07712 137603.
Meet the new boss…why older people are finding the new Government too taxing
Part of my job involves talking to a lot of older people. This isn’t too taxing and many of them are my friends in any case. A number have commented on my last piece headed ‘we won’t get fooled again’ which looked at what the new Government might mean for older people.
They are telling me that they are unhappy with the Government’s stated enthusiasm to increase the rate of capital gains tax for personal assets. One person suggested that I might select as the theme for my next article another line from the same song - ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. So I have.
For many pre-retirees and retired people, this proposed increase feels like a reversal of what might have been expected from a conservative majority. To conservative voters, it is seen a betrayal of basic principles. In fact, the plans are those of the LibDem minority, adopted by the coalition for reasons of political expediency. Meet the new boss, indeed.
There are a number of reasons why an increase in capital gains tax - from the current level of 18% to a straight 40%, with no taper relief, no indexation - would be very bad news indeed for many pre-retirees and retired people. The main reason is quite simple: their retirement plans depend upon the sale of property and financial assets they have accumulated during their working life. If the tax increase goes ahead, the tax to be paid on the sale of these assets would more than double, meaning that the net sum they would realise would decline by more than 25%.
If this is to be the case, then the Daily Telegraph and others may have a point in describing it as ‘daylight robbery’.
One explanation for this is that the politicians and public sector employees who devised it are insulated from the real world. We will not discuss here the scandalous abuse of taxpayers funds by politicians, although we should give a special mention to the Environment Minister (of all people) who only this week was apparently using a Government limousine to take her to her game of tennis. And we will not annoy ourselves by dwelling on the salaries, job security and protected pensions of the public sector.
For all of the people I have spoken to, capital gains are not the result of short-term speculation or tax avoidance schemes. They are the result of prudent long-term saving in order to fund retirement – much as the Government is likely to be encouraging us to do. The facts are these:
- The state cannot afford the burden of supporting the increasing number of people of retirement age. Initiatives by individuals to provide for themselves should be encouraged.
- Private pension schemes with a guaranteed salary-related pension are no longer the norm in the private sector.
- Working until retirement age is no longer the norm.
- Many people work for themselves and do not have private pension schemes.
Given all of this, it is not surprising that many people have chosen to save for their retirement through the purchase of shares and property. As has been repeatedly pointed out, the people affected are not a small minority of wealthy people, but a large proportion of the working population.
This agency does not have political affiliations, but we feel obliged to report the views expressed to us so forcibly by so many people. We are not alone. Dissent has included a sustained newspaper campaign, rumblings by backbench conservatives, and expert opinion that a tax increase would be counter-productive in economic terms.
All of this suggests that the Government’s plans are likely to be watered down. Let us hope so.
We won’t get fooled again. What does the new Government mean for older people?
Using the theme ‘Our Power is our Number’, the charity Age UK pointed out the size and importance of the votes of older people, and set out a ‘manifesto’ for older people. This was based upon five key issues, including social care, pensions, forced retirement and the NHS. The underlying themes were increased expenditure on matters affecting older people, a reduction in ageism and a greater role in society for older people.
It is too early to know whether the new coalition Government will be good news for older people. But given a probable double-whammy of reduced public expenditure and increased taxation, there is some cause for concern.
However, we can see for sure whether the make-up of the new Government itself has delivered on a ‘greater role in society for older people’. David Cameron and Nick Clegg are both aged 43, and have used their boyish charm and youthful energy to the max. Baroness Warsi (conservative party co-chair and cabinet member) is aged 39, the same age as the Chancellor, George Osborne. So far, this reinforces the perception that in politics, youth may be valued over experience. One is a little reassured to see the age and experience of Ken Clarke (69) and Vince Cable (67) looming in the background. In total, 13 of the 21 cabinet members are aged over 50, although only Clarke and Cable are over 60.
On the face of it, this seems to reflect and perhaps even out-perform the UK workforce. In the private sector, few people aged over 60 are in management positions and unemployment levels for people over 50 are running at 30%. In the advertising industry, just 5% of employees are aged over 50 (although Sir Martin Sorrell, who owns a good chunk of it, is 65).
However, the overall perception – and one which has been carefully stage-managed - is of a youthful new coalition cabinet, with the implicit associations of youth with dynamism, energy and leadership. The idea of powerful younger people making the decisions that affect older people can only reinforce unwanted stereotypes. We have a part-time Minister for Equality – why not a full-time Minister for Old Age?
The Century-Old Consumer
An innovation agency owned by M & C Saatchi has apparently carried out a study with people aged between 20 and 70 in the UK, China, Netherlands and USA (which is where their offices are located). This study examined people’s attitudes and behaviour regarding the fact that they may live to be 100 years old.
In what has to be seen as a publicity coup worthy of the eponymous M & C themselves, the research study has been shown exclusively to Marketing Week and forms the basis of an extensive piece by Lucy Handley (22nd April 2010). However, this exclusivity makes any sort of review or critique of the research somewhat difficult, not to say impossible!
The starting point for the study seems to have been an article in the Lancet, which predicted that 50% of all children born since 2000 in the developed world will live to be 100. It is predicted elsewhere that people currently aged 50 have something like a 1 in 8 chance of reaching their century. From this, according to Marketing Week, it is concluded that businesses need to understand what this means for product, services and communications, and should start planning for this now - but that very few businesses seem to be doing so.
This final conclusion is probably not too surprising. Many businesses are still adapting to the most basic realities of an ageing population. Our own research established that not only are there more adults aged over 45 than under 45, but that this older group accounts for disproportionately higher expenditure. Despite this, it seems that many businesses are still struggling to find a way of segmenting, targeting and positioning against this long-term but inexorable change. Looking into the future, the population continues to age. However, to plan for a future dominated by centurions is probably a step too far, although I’ll bet P&G are working on it…
But well done to the consultancy for thinking about the issue and to Marketing Week for covering it. I only wish our own publicity efforts were as successful! Please visit the our knowledge section of our web site for exclusive access to our own research report.
Older People are Cool…
In my last post, I developed the erudite argument that ‘older people rock’. Not only are most of the influential figures in rock music in their 50s, 60s and even 70s, but the audiences for their music include people of all ages. In other words, rock music is inclusive: the key variables are the talent of the artist and the interest (and expenditure) of the audience: not age.
This applies to many other consumer markets: automotive, fashion, leisure and travel are obvious examples. The interest and behaviour of consumers is not related to their own age, nor is it related to the age of the actors, models and personalities associated with particular brands and businesses. Richard Branson will be 60 this year, yet Virgin is seen as a ‘youthful’ brand. Twiggy is also 60, yet turns heads in Marks and Spencer advertising. Steve Jobs is 65, yet Apple is one of the coolest brands on the planet.
So why do so many brands and businesses continue either to focus on youth, avoiding older people altogether, or to treat older people as unimaginative and outdated? The assumption that older people – who account for at least 50% of many consumer markets – are motivated only by youth as the cipher for all that is new and interesting is simply not the case. Older people demonstrably exhibit greater creativity, individualism and originality than younger people, and this is acknowledged by people of all ages.
Ari Seth Cohen is a 28 year old New York blogger who questions why we look towards younger people as our fashion icons. He believes that older people know a lot more about fashion and style than younger people and his blog celebrates trend-setting older people, from the chic, hip and well-dressed to the eccentric and bizarre. In his own words: “I roam the streets looking for New York’s most stylish and creative older folks. Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest.”
At rhc advantage, we believe that older people deserve a better deal from business, marketing and communications. To find out more about the realities of marketing and older audiences, request our comprehensive research report.
Older Audiences Rock!
Happy Birthday, Sir Elton John – 63 today. And thank you, because your birthday has reminded me to get this particular rant off my chest.
Sir Elton is one of many rock musicians now in their sixties. Beck, Bowie, Clapton, Jagger, Springsteen – the list could go on, ad infinitum. The really big bands of this vintage can still pack the largest venues whenever they want – think of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, the Who. They command huge audiences, many of whom are the same age as they are.
And my rant is this: older audiences rock, but most of the marketing communications directed at them do not. In fact, if advertising and communications are directed at older people at all, they are almost always directed at some sort of mythical minority group, made up of caricatures, grotesques and stereotypes, instead of the incredibly diverse group most of us know. The best we over-50s can hope for is to be portrayed with white teeth, coiffeured grey hair and Blue Harbour leisure clothing.
To continue. Jimi Hendrix is currently topping the charts with a ‘new’ album, despite having died 40 years ago. And perhaps the biggest name of them all, Sir Paul McCartney, 67, has already sold out his June performance in Hyde Park. With a full-time staff of 150 for his world tour, and a ‘Platinum Package’ ticket priced at £938.83, Sir Paul is certainly doing his bit for the economy. And yes, he is continuing to work beyond the state retirement age, presumably out of choice.
And it’s not just the performers. If you’re not sure what the term ‘older audience’ really means, then just go to a rock concert. People who used to shake their mane of hair in front of the PA speakers can now be found nodding their grizzled heads politely. None conform to any stereotype of what an ‘older audience’ might look like. At a recent rock music event I attended* nearly all of the audience, like the band, were over fifty. But the diversity was there to be seen – from bespectacled chaps in sensible pullovers, tapping their feet politely, to ageing tattooed bikers, wearing faded band T-shirts. We all shared an interest in a particular band, but little else.
This older rock audience consumes many different types of music heavily, and in many different ways – from gigs to downloads. It is a diverse audience, which does not conform to the stereotypes of how older people are expected to look or behave. In fact, like any other ‘older audience’, neither does it conform to the way in which older people are perceived and portrayed by many businesses, their advertising and their marketing communications.
So, if you’re talking ‘bout my generation, please try to talk to us in a language we understand.
* ‘Down at the Doctors: a weekend in Canvey Island with Dr Feelgood’ – http://markbeasley.blog.co.uk
‘Marketing and Older People’ - updated version of research report now available from rhc
rhc advantage, the marketing and communications agency, has released an updated version of its research report, Marketing and Older Audiences.
The UK population continues to age, with vast economic, social and political consequences. However, most people do not have the time to study the subject in detail, or to evaluate the associated marketing issues. That’s where this report comes in.
‘Marketing and Older Audiences’ reviews an extensive and diverse range of data and research literature, drawing upon academic, commercial and Government sources. The result is an authoritative, comprehensive and highly readable report document. The 100-page report provides an overview of the following areas:
- Demographic analysis
- Economic issues and trends
- Social and political issues and trends
- Market segmentation
- The purchasing behaviour of older people
- Attitudes of older people to age and ageing, employment, business, brands and communications
- Advertising and Marketing in practice
- Marketing communications planning and creative guidelines
The research was directed by Dr David Gilbert, Professor of Marketing at the University of Surrey, and reviewed by Dr Paul Sweeting, Professor of Actuarial Science at the University of Kent.
The updated version has been revised, improved and updated with additional content. To find out more about the report click here
rhc advantage are also available to present the main findings of the report to audiences large and small. Please call Mark Beasley on 07712 137603
Older people and HSBC business customers
The following article is to be published in the next edition of Small Business Update, which goes out to the entire SME customer base of HSBC, going live on the last day of the month. It contains various quotes from me - and while I love publicity, I’m less keen on reducing complex issues to soundbites. However, I think the journalist, Emma Allen, did a good job, given the limited wordcount she had to work within.
The over 50s are a growing socio-economic group – and one with a large disposable income. How can small firms market their business so they appeal to this audience?
With someone in the UK turning 50 every 40 seconds, it’s little wonder that so-called baby boomers are a powerful consumer force. Yet many older people say they feel patronised by marketing campaigns - or worse, invisible - as businesses fail to cater to their needs.
A quick glance at the statistics, however, shows that firms cannot afford to overlook this age group. Not only does the UK have an ageing population - over 40 per cent of us will be 50 years plus by 2035 – but many older people possess serious spending power, holding the purse strings to 80 per cent of the nation’s wealth.
So how can businesses make their marketing strategy more appealing to mature shoppers? First, firms need to recognise that the over 50’s are a highly diverse group with different pockets of consumers, and that defining customers by age alone can be misleading, advises Mark Beasley, partner at marketing agency rhc advantage, which specialises in communications for older audiences.
“Unless you’re selling health or financial products with special age related clauses, you shouldn’t lump everybody together in a one size fits all approach – after all, a 50 year old will have very different attitudes and needs to an 80 year old. Equally, Mick Jagger is the same age as John Major but you wouldn’t necessarily group them together,” he points out.
Instead, he says that businesses need to take a more strategic approach, taking into account different factors such as lifestyle, income, education and occupation. This will give you a much more useful insight into your customers, as well as how they want to receive information and ultimately, how you can best reach them.
Stereotyping older people also paints a false picture. “Not every person over 50 is driven by price, or is into gardening, cruising or sensible shoes. The biggest spenders on fashion are actually women aged 50 to 64, while men over 45 are heavy buyers of music,” Beasley explains.
“Most well-known brands simply don’t cater to these markets though, so there are real opportunities for forward-thinking firms. Think about things like product design, retail environment and staffing – hiring mature employees for example – to make sure you’re meeting the needs of older audiences.”
When it comes to marketing techniques, baby-boomers are fairly sophisticated having grown up with advertising since the 1950s, Beasley says, explaining that the over 50s tend to prefer print media to tv advertising or radio, with direct mail usually the least influential method.
Explain the facts
“Older people tend to be motivated by facts, rather than meaningless creativity,” Beasley explains. “Messages should include clear information on why the product would benefit them and how it works not rely solely on glossy images, as research shows this doesn’t tend to motivate buyers.”
Businesses shouldn’t assume that the over 50s are less technologically savvy, either, as studies show that online influence is growing. In a study by Millennium, emails and website advertising came second to word of mouth as the most important factor when making a purchasing decision for older people. Again, thinking about your customers is key – many of the over 50s will have used computers in their career and will be highly IT literate, and while the over 70s are much less likely to use the internet overall, there are many groups of active internet users in this age group as well. The mistake yet again, says Beasley, is to think only in terms of age - there are other, better, ways of segmenting customers.
Lastly, Beasley advises making sure your website is inclusive to older audiences, by making it easy to read and navigate. He advises using a clear font, a reasonable size type and clean and simple designs, as well as avoiding labels such as ‘elderly’ or ‘old’ or offering discounts to ‘seniors’ - this will alienate the younger over 50s and patronises all older people.
Where next for Inclusive Design?
Inclusive design was championed by BT at a seminar this week. So far, the principles have been applied mainly to products. Could the principles be extended to apply to inclusive branding, communications, marketing and services?
On Tuesday, Richard and I attended a BT seminar: ‘Designs on a Bigger Market: The business case for inclusive design’.
This set out to make the business case for ‘inclusive design’ and to provide hands on advice practical workshops. The event was well-paced, well-organised and seemed to engage the audience to an impressively high level. And the setting – the BT Tower – did not exactly detract from the event either.
The event started with filmed interviews with such luminaries as Stephen Timms MP (Minister for Digital Britain) and Tom Wright CBE (Chief Executive of Age UK). Presenters included Andrew Harrop of Age UK, Professor John Clarkson of Cambridge University, and Gillian Gibson-Piggot of BT. All made their points succinctly and well.
So what is ‘inclusive design’? According to the BSI, it is ‘The design of mainstream products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible…without the need for special adaptation or specialised design.” For further information, visit http://www.bt.com/inclusivedesign or http://www.inclusivedesigntoolkit.com
The business case for inclusive design is based upon population ageing, the physical impairments associated with age, and the size, growth and economic power of this group. Something close to our own hearts, of course. The type of ‘inclusive design’ discussed was almost entirely product design, providing functional benefits related to impairment.
So far, so good. But what’s next? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Inclusive branding and marketing. The emotional needs of older people must be addressed, as well as their physical and functional needs. This takes us into the realm of branding and communications (again, close to our hearts at rhc advantage). To make a gross generalisation, the current choice for older people seems to be polarised between dull, utilitarian products meeting their physical needs, and products which, although meeting their needs as mainstream consumers, are apparently targeted and positioned for much younger and unnecessarily groovy people. Take the IPad or IPhone, for example. For an older person to own these invites humorous comment, yet it is well established that many older people are likely to purchase technology products – for example, 50% of Kindle purchasers were aged over 50 (and 27% over 60).
And why can’t functional products for older people also be attractive? For an example of how this can be achieved, visit http://www.thefutureperfectcompany.com
2. Inclusive communications. The principles of inclusive design have been applied mainly to products. These principles must be developed and applied to the route to market of those products, and beyond. This includes the extended service offering around products (information, after-sales, and so on), packaging design, communications to intermediaries, in-store merchandising and point-of-sale materials, and of course, marketing communications.
3. Inclusive Service. The principles of inclusive design must also be applied to all aspects of the customer experience in retail and service organisations. Consider just one example. Many older people we have spoken to dislike banks (OK, who doesn’t?) because they have to stand in queues. However, the much-maligned Post Office has a numbered ticketing system (in larger branches) which allows you to sit in a comfortable chair until your number comes up. There is not space here to consider all the many aspects of the service experience which could be improved, probably to the benefit of everybody.
Thanks to BT for stimulating the discussion, and to the Age UK ‘engage’ team for facilitating our attendance at the event. It’s all very close to our hearts and the very reason we launched rhc advantage in December 2009.
Marketing to Older People: Fact and Fiction
The following article is to appear next month in BT Resources, a newsletter sent by BT to its financial services customers.
Marketing to Older People: Fact and Fiction
The population of the UK is now older than ever before. According to the Office for National Statistics, there are now more adults aged over 45 than there are under 45. This was described by a Government report last year as a ‘tipping point’ and the UK population will continue to age for the foreseeable future. According to the Economist (26.06.09), this is a ‘slow-moving but relentless development that in time will have vast economic, social and political consequences’.
For the financial services industry in particular, an ageing population provides many opportunities. However, there also challenges – not least, cutting though the many false assumptions, stereotypes and myths surrounding this important group. If these are not identified and avoided, customer relationships will inevitably suffer. To demonstrate this, let’s examine three areas of relevance to anyone working in the financial services sector: customer wealth, retirement and imagery.
Just about every time you read an article about marketing and the over-50s, you will inevitably be told that this group accounts for 80% of the UK’s wealth. Coupled with the size of this group, this ‘fact’ suggests a large, relatively untapped and lucrative target market. However, the most extensive, thorough and impressive research programme ever conducted into older people - the COI ‘Common Good’ research project (2006) - concluded that: ‘there is insufficient data available to support this apparent fact and we have been unable to find support for it.”
The reality is that this is an extremely diverse and complex group of more than 20 million people. Some people are extremely wealthy, while it is also the case that – according to Age Concern – more than 2 million older people live in poverty. The message here is that the basics of marketing – segmentation, targeting and positioning – are crucial. Do not rush into mass marketing on the assumption that most older people are extremely wealthy.
Harriet Harman - in her role as Minister for Women and Equality – recently pledged to end compulsory retirement, hence giving people the right to work beyond the state pension age (SPA) of 65 for men and 60 for women. The fact that older people are able to enjoy equality in the labour market is of course to be welcomed.
However, this is not just about personal freedom, human rights and social justice. For many people, continuing to work after the SPA is not a matter of choice but of necessity. As Andrew Harrop of Age Concern/Help the Aged recently commented (11.01.10), ‘Millions of old workers need to carry on working past state pension age to boost their savings and pension pots’. What’s more, many such jobs are likely to be low-paid and part-time – only the minority will be engaging in a ‘portfolio existence’ of consultancy projects, non-executive directorships, and golfing holidays in the Algarve.
And of course, continuing to work after the SPA assumes that one has a job in the first place. In fact, 30% of people aged between 50 and the SPA are unemployed, mostly involuntarily. As a result, this age group now exhibits the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity, with many people starting second careers in their fifties.
For these reasons, retirement should now be seen as a process, not an event, says Paul Sweeting, Professor of Actuarial Science at the University of Kent. In fact, just 17% of men and 10% of women now retire at the SPA, according to the Older Workers Employment Network.
According to press releases and publicity materials issued by many financial services companies (I will name no names), life has never been better for people entering retirement. A vivid picture is painted of a ‘generation’ which ‘according to new research’ is invariably enjoying life more than ever before. This healthy, active generation is busily riding bikes, travelling the world, bungee-jumping and generally enjoying a carefree life of freedom, unencumbered by financial concerns.
The research of one company found that people aged 52-60 are apparently ‘living a dream life that is the envy of the younger generation’ and have found ‘a form of perfect work/life balance’. Another found a ‘new generation’ of ‘GoAPs – ‘Go-getting Active Pensioners’ which ‘rips up the rule book on retirement’ and can claim that ‘we’ve never had it do good’. And one otherwise highly-respected organisation recently described people over 50 as ‘Gap Year Grannies’ – I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps here.
This group of shiny, happy people is sometimes described as the ‘baby boomer generation’ – that demographic bulge of people born between 1946 and 1965. This age group is said to confound societal expectations in terms of activities, aspirations, attitudes, behaviour and lifestyle. In reality, it is implausible that millions of people will share anything very much simply because they are the same age. Unless a range of other segmentation variables are also applied, targeting by age alone is unlikely to be effective.
Above all, it is important to note a number of studies which have found that most people approaching retirement are extremely concerned about their future finances. And with good reason – a major research study published in December 2009 by Janus Capital again confirmed the ‘alarming deficits’ in personal savings and retirement provision that bedevil the pensions industry. What’s more, the increasing number of people having to care for both their adult children and their ageing parents – the so-called ‘sandwich generation’ – are finding their savings being eroded before retirement.
The imagery used in advertising and communications materials is also often at variance with reality. There is a solid body of research which demonstrates that images of older people are either excluded altogether from advertising and communications materials, or are demeaning, patronising or stereotypical when used. According to academic researchers Carrigan and Szmigin, ‘despite all the evidence, advertisers continue to pursue youth’. And not surprisingly, older people resent this – all the research tells us that older people wish to be recognised, treated as serious consumers, and depicted in a realistic manner.
This is a large, complex and diverse age group. They are not a ‘generation’, they are not a homogenous group, and they do not wish to be defined by age. Most importantly, they do not conform to a set of pre-defined rules. I wish you well in your efforts to work with your older customers to formulate your own shared rules.
Good news - or is it? IPA Agency Census reveals that agency staff are getting younger
The IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) has today published the main findings of its 2009 Agency Census (http://www.ipa.co.uk). This annual survey is described (by the IPA) as ‘the definitive annual agency survey of employment trends in media, advertising and marketing communications agencies’.
And the good news is that year-on-year the average age of agency employees has increased, as has the percentage of employees aged over 50. Or perhaps it isn’t such good news after all. Let’s look at the figures:
- 45.2% of agency employees are aged under 30 (2008 – 47.6%)
- 5.2% of agency employees are aged over 50 (2008 – 5%)
- The average age of employees is 33.7 (2008 – 33.3)
- The employed base has declined by 7.4%, driven mainly by a decline in employees aged under 25 and first-year trainees
As Hamish Pringle, the Director General of the IPA comments, this has been ‘the toughest period for agencies in living memory.’. It is hardly surprising that the recruitment of graduates and younger people has declined and of course this is the reason for the extremely small increases in employee age. Certainly, there is no evidence of a drive by agencies to recruit on the basis of age and experience! In fact, I suspect that there has actually been a decline in the number of older employees.
The comparative youth of people working in agencies is often given as the reason behind ageism in advertising and marketing communications, whereby according to some researchers ‘despite all the evidence, advertisers continue to pursue youth.’
The average age of adults in the UK is now 45 – not 33. The mainstream has been ageing for the past 30 years and will continue to do so. How you can have any interest, empathy or insight into older consumers, when you live in a ghetto of youth, fashion and cool? As the census itself acknowledges, agencies have some way to go in terms of diversity - so full marks for honesty.
For many years, the required attributes for agency staff have included creativity, energy, enthusiasm and vibrancy, not to mention a direct connection with the zeitgeist. These attributes have become associated with youthfulness.
That’s why we formed rhc advantage: to offer high levels of expertise, based upon understanding and insight of older audiences, delivered by talented people who are themselves older (but are not yet disconnected from the zeitgeist).
Marketing to older audiences. Myths and Legends - Part One
Just how wealthy are 'older people' ?
The statement that 'older people hold 80% of the UK's wealth' is repeatedly quoted as though it were an incontrovertible fact requiring no substantiation or support. In fact, it seems to have become an accepted myth: if you read an article on the subject of marketing and older people, there is a very good chance you will read this 'fact'.
The most recent example of this is in the current 'engage' newsletter, issued by Age Concern and Help the Aged. This introduces recent research conducted by 20plus30 and Mature Marketing into older consumers and the recession. Both newsletter and research report boldly assert (without referencing a source) that: 'Despite older people holding 80% of savings and investment assets...'
Our own extensive review of data and research relating to older people could find no support for this assertion. There is some evidence that older people hold a disproportionate amount of wealth - however, it is also claimed (by Age Concern / Help the Aged) that over 2 million older people live in poverty. Where a source is given, it is often either vague ('according to a report from the Henley Centre') or attributed to a secondary source (for example, the only publicly-available data from Age Concern/Help the Aged on this subject references a book - 'Older, Richer, Fitter' - published in 2005).
Probably the most extensive, thorough and impressive research programme ever conducted in this area was the COI 'Common Good' research project (2006). This commented on the "statistic" of older people holding 80% of the UK's wealth as follows: 'there is insufficient data available to support this apparent fact and we have been unable to find support for it."
Can anyone provide a definitive - by which I mean primary, and reputable - source for this alleged 'fact', please? Or, may I suggest that it is no longer used, and we find some more accurate, meaningful and properly sourced facts to put into the public domain? If we are to overcome the inherent ageism of UK society and business, and the many incorrect assumptions held about older people, we must not fall into the same trap (by propagating allowing our own inaccurae information to be propagated). And in any case, why should 'wealth' be allowed to become the most important 'fact'? Wealth is relevant only if one can establish a direct relationship between wealth and expenditure.