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Opinion: Mature Marketing

It is true to say that none of us want to get older, even worse, none of us want to be called old. However, when you look at the defining factors of the lifestyle of the already retired members of the grey market is really quite appealing -- in fact, I wonder why we aren't all looking forward to life after sixty.

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When you look closely at this demographic, you realise that you are not dealing with armchair-bound grandparents.

Yes, the stereotype makes up a percentage of this group but the retired over sixties are defined by some very attractive lifestyle attributes -- free time, experienced, pursuing hobbies, travel and for many financial security.
While we can't speed the time along to enjoy this lifestyle, we can view it as a lucrative customer base, and many brands already do.

However, what many companies don't do well is communicate effectively with this group as there are a number of factors to consider when marketing to them.

For example, a common mistake is to view this group as one whole.  The fact is, over sixty does not mean over the hill.
The retired grey market is actually a very diverse group with everyone from church-goers to surfers and the house-bound to marathon runners.
As such, each individual has different interests and will respond to different marketing tactics and messaging.

What this means is that you must know your audience more thoroughly than simply knowing their age and gain more insight through segmentation of customer data.

Not only does this data work mean that you are going to send more relevant and therefore effective marketing communications but it can also reveal the unexpected.

For example, we engaged in this work for an airline that wanted to target their regular fliers, a large number of whom were over 60s. By carrying out a series of in-flight questionnaires to learn more about these customers, we discovered that a large proportion of them were using the airline to fly to second homes abroad.

We went on to use this information as the cornerstone of our campaign through a regular newsletter aimed at homeowners abroad.  The success that we had with this campaign has proved to us that approaching the grey market in a more strategically complex way can pay huge dividends.

This leads on to another rule of marketing to the over 60s -- don't patronise.  Just because you know someone's age doesn't mean that you know who they are or what they like.

One of the worst mistakes that you see on communications is informing someone of how old they are. For example "As someone who's over 60..." or "We know pensioners like you are interested in...".

This may be true but recipients are unlikely to respond favourably to this. Instead, use the insight that you have gained to send effective and relevant communications that apply to their interests, not their age.

Never assume that this demographic are naive or ignorant of certain things. Our research has actually shown that the retired grey market has all the experience that comes with age which should never be underestimated.

As consumers they have been around for longer than many of the brands that are marketing to them, and have seen all the claims, promises and commitment brands make and as a result are likely to be cynical about what a brand can do for them.

This is an important factor when looking at the content of communications for this demographic as brands need to work harder, smarter and transparently to prove itself worthy of the consumers business, particularly in the current economic climate.

Moreover, with more time to spare, if there is relevant information to give, do so as there is a higher chance that this audience will want to know more.

This is all about giving your customers what they want and making all the information they may desire available to them.

However, it is important to remember that this demographic, like any other, don't want information that isn't relevant.

Only include the important messaging to avoid confusion, while making more detailed information available.

While this audience have more time on their hands, it doesn't mean that they want to be bored by lengthy and unnecessary information. A basic rule is to get to the point but make more detail available.

Similarly, just as with any marketing, look to build a relationship through your communications and not just leave it at one.

The basic rules of effective marketing still apply with this demographic and you will see a rise in response if you communicate regularly and consistently.

The over 60s provide a lucrative audience to tap into. As such, the industry has to ensure that communications are as engaging as possible.
his means going the extra mile to produce the most relevant materials possible.

People who are retired are  wise, experienced, and will see straight through badly produced marketing because they have probably seen it all before.

Matthew Fitzsimons, Head of Planning, EHS Brann Cirencester.

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