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Why You Should Rethink Marketing to the Over 50s


As my parents fast approach 70, marketers are losing touch with them – they’re classed as “over 50” – a 20 year wide segment!

It’s similar to classing everyone over 10 as millennials – the segment is too broad for targeted marketing, and assumes people who are the same age think and act the same.

We need to break this thinking and use the intelligent application of data to target customers and create successful CRM programmes.

Working for an integrated marketing agency and coming from a data background, I love data and get frustrated when I see it underutilised.

A lot of larger businesses admit to not using data as intelligently as they should do. This is generally down to the cost factor of actually getting all of their data into a platform where they can access it easily and in a timely manner.

Working alongside Occam (our St Ives Group data experts) we offer audits to help our clients get a snapshot of the state of the market in relation to their data, whether this is a data landscape definition or a data quality audit.

We help clients to gain a clearer view of their data, winning awards for data-led cost savings and unearthing consumer segments for targeting – something we’ve had great success with when looking at the Over 50s.

Alongside Millennials, the Over 50’s market makes up the largest demographic target for businesses and a lot of money is put into marketing to them – but how much of that is wasted?

Chatting to my mum, it’s clear she’s very service-driven and expects to be treated well as a customer. She shops for value for money, an ethos which comes from not having any when she was a child and learning to get by and make do and mend. She has her generation’s strong work ethic and is always on the go. 

It made me wonder - when do you actually start to feel old? When do you start to shop differently? Do you automatically hit 50 and become frugal as you prepare for retirement and start shopping around for deals? 

If you have always shopped for luxury products will you continue this into your 80’s?

My mum often chats about her friends who didn’t work – they looked after the children and then looked after the grandchildren and their husbands went out to work. 

My mum agrees that it is very different today with many families where both parents work just to break even, and using other means to top up their income.

She said ‘more people today see loans and credit cards as an extension to their wages, whereas when we were young and starting a family we had the money we had and nothing more – we had to keep to a budget and this included going on holiday and on the last day having no money left with no way of getting any more’.

With this in mind now she has money she likes to spend it!

She lunches with friends and shops often, but never goes over budget. 

This is one of the main differences between the generations – the amount of money the majority are able to spend versus the income of the younger generation.

So mail order, with its Buy Now Pay Later, for the older generation now includes instant online credit, on top of the store cards, interest-free offers and credit deals you can get for almost anything these days.

Price is a key factor when it comes to selling to your customers and ‘nice to have’ products need to work harder to build brand profile and create a compelling proposition.

As always, the key is data - profiling your customers and gaining insight as to their motivation to buy is vital.

Segmenting and profiling your customer data is the easiest way to drive targeted communications and ensure that you are talking to the right customers about the right products and services. 

For example sending a 50 year-old a funeral care plan may work for some, but others will rightly be offended!

At Response One we use Machine Learning to understand consumer data. This is not just demographic data but information about their lifestyle, their decision making process to get a more rounded understanding.

Machine learning helps us make this process much more accurate and quicker and less labour intensive. It also allows us to build on that rounded view as more data gets available in real-time meaning we are always segmenting the clients on their most recent information.

We also advise on creative messaging - the way you talk to this segment is vital and messaging needs to be carefully thought through.

The first step is to understand your existing customer base and apply your service or products to them – are you targeting the right customers –interrogating your data to see who’s most profitable.

It can be such a simple exercise that if you haven’t reviewed it recently then consider a customer profile refresh as all of the variable data factors change regularly – even for the Over 50’s.

The Over 50’s sector is evolving and changing.  Marketing needs to target this group of individuals through insight-led segmentation to get the greatest ROI. 

I’ll let my mum sign off –

“There are some 70 year olds who are more 50 in their approach to life and some 50 year olds who are more 70. Personally I still at 69 feel like I am 21 but definitely need pain relief - so always try to sell me that!”

Reach out to me if you want to talk further or would like to sign up for a free audit.

You can also speak directly to Sameer Rahman who heads up our Data Science Team here at Response One on 01225 480480 or sameer.rahman@responseone.co.uk