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It’s not all about age

Some marketing campaigns targeting older people are developed because businesses suddenly discover that they have a surprisingly large number of older customers. If we can attract them without really trying, runs the logic, then think how much better we could do if we actually targeted older people. After all, 35% of the population is aged over 50 and accounts for more than 50% of expenditure: and the population continues to age. It’s a no-brainer!

Unfortunately, no brains are sometimes what are used to develop the campaigns that follow this revelation. Cue the generic over-50s all-purpose marketing campaign. The marketing manager and the account manager at the agency both have parents and grandparents aged over 50, so that’s the research and planning taken care of. Just as well, as hardly anybody in the client marketing department or agency is aged over 30. One set of assumptions later and it’s time to think about imagery. This tends to fall into two main types: for people in their 50s and 60s, ensure that dated images of American baby boomers are purchased from a stock library – all gleaming teeth, pastel leisure wear and jogging. For people in their 70s and above, look for permed grey hair, sensible clothing and grandchildren. Think about a celebrity presenter in the same age group – June Whitfield, say, or a retired newsreader. And if you need an incentive, you can’t go wrong with a Parker Pen.

Fortunately, some enlightened clients choose to work with us instead!

Take Homeserve, for example. Realising that they had a disproportionately high number of customers aged over 60, they wanted to develop a range of direct mail propositions which could be used for acquisition, retention and up-selling. In developing a communications strategy, our key insight was that all Homeserve customers were home-owners, who – irrespective of age – shared a love of their home,a desire to care for and protect it. However, the Homeserve proposition does become more salient with age – declining strength, mobility and dexterity, widowhood and more time around the house and garden. Our underlying proposition was simple: if you love your home, you’ll probably like Homeserve’s services.

Sennheiser stands for high-quality audio equipment, developed for music and other professionals. Consistent technical innovation has kept the company at the leading edge and younger consumers have also been early adopters, attracted by the sound quality and design values.

As with most technical products, sales growth is driven further up the adoption curve: often, by older consumers. The most obvious candidate for this was the Sennheiser range of TV headphones and TV headsets. While these had potential benefits for older consumers, no communication strategy had been developed.

We found that hearing loss increases with age: 42% of people aged over 50 and 71% of people aged over 70 suffer from some degree of hearing impairment. However, it takes an average of ten years for people to address the issue – and most never do anything at all. This means that television – the most popular leisure activity for older people – becomes harder to hear. The solution: turning up the volume, which can annoy other people in the room, in the house and even next door.

The Sennheiser product range provides the perfect solution: high quality sound, the volume of which can be controlled by the user, without annoying other people in the room. This key insight drove most of our work – which included web, product brochures, promotion, trade communication and support and press advertising. Insteead of focusing on age, we were able to develop a classic problem / solution approach, which did not need to be related to age.

For grown-up solutions to your marketing problems, contact Mark Beasley at rhc advantage