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About Dick Stroud

Dick Stroud is the founder of 20plus30, a consultancy specialising in marketing to older consumers. He is the UK’s leading expert in understanding the implications of physical ageing on the way older people behave and the products they buy.

Marketing to the Ageing Consumer
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50-Plus Marketing

News, views and opinions about the most powerful group of consumers - the 50-plus market.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Post Office please, please start treating customers as customers

The Post Office call centre getting it badly wrong

I don't like using this blog to deal with my personal hassles but when they illustrate a much wider marketing problem I break the rule.

Before listening to this call centre dialogue you need to understand a few facts:

This refers to the Post Office Travel Money card that acts as a Euro direct debit card

  • I applied for one of these things and transferred £50 from my bank account and waited
  • The next thing that happens is that the fraud office of NatWest bank contacts me because of unusual transactions on my bank account
  • I then learn that at the time the transaction to the Post Office was made two other payments were illegally taken from my account 
  • This might be coincidence but it does seem a bit odd. Certainly worth investigating?
  • My card arrives and when I try to authenticate it I am told that it has been put on hold


The dialogue you hear is 4th maybe 5th call I have had with the Post Office after sending them a scan of my passport and a copy of my online bank statement showing the £50 transaction.

At this point I am a customer who is clearly not happy. I have not been told why I am being asked for more and more information to get access to MY money. Worse still, I am the one who has suffered a fraud incident that might have be connected with somebody involved with the Post Office -  but nobody is in the least bit interested.

And finally, I am being asked to provide a paper (yep, you know that funny stuff we once used) bank statement.

Now this poor hapless lady at the call centre is not to blame for the Post Office's awful customer service. She is only doing what she is allowed to do. The person to blame is the idiot that set-up the rules of the call centre and the paths that are available for the call centre staff to use.

I hope the Post Office take this as a learning experience and maybe I have saved a few of their customers being exposed to such a poor customer experience.

So if somebody from the Post Office is reading this can I have my money back and please can you investigate what might, just might, be fraudulent activity connected with your organisation. Dick Stroud

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Demographic change is certain - what we do about is not - why?

The opening sentence to an article in the Guardian newspaper says:

What stops society from planning for demographic change? This should be easy to answer; demographic change is relatively straightforward, so it must be a problem with the planners?

I don't think the article gets to grips with this question but it is an important one to ask.

So what is 'society' that has to get to grips with change. I guess if you ask a daft question you get a daft answer.

It is necessary to drill down into much more detail before you start to get answers of any value. A good starting point is Society = Individuals+Companies+Government. Each of these sub groups has different issues in understanding and responding to change.

Kim Walker and I had a go at explaining why each of these group either ignores or gets it wrong in our book Marketing to the Ageing Consumer.

It is a subject that I intend to return to in more detail. Dick Stroud

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Want to check-out fast? Don't get behind somebody looking like me.

A while back I wrote a blog posting about research showing that younger people will avoid getting behind an older person at a supermarket checkout. I said that I did the same thing.

An old mate in the US (Chuck Nyren) picked up on this theme and developed it into a post on the Huff Post 50 blog. I found it hilarious.

There is a more serious marketing issue involved. If older people (some at least) seem to both physically and mentally slow down but your customer touchpoints  assume a faster processing speed then it is you that has the problem. Dick Stroud

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Young people are driving less and buying fewer cars a trend that will continue

A while back I spent an afternoon talking with a team of future watchers from Toyota. They were touring the globe talking to people about the changing nature of the world and its impact on the types and volumes of cars that will be purchased.

To be honest, I think the trends are reasonably clear. No I am not talking about us all going around in driverless cars but the way younger people are kicking the car habit.

This data is for the US but I think it applies to much of Europe. Here are a couple of facts that give the tone of the research.

Vehicle miles driven shrunk by a quarter from 2001 to 2009 with young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 purchasing 30% fewer cars than they did in 2007. Yes, that did say thirty percent fewer cars.

By 2025, a quarter of people on the road will be over the age of 65.

So if you are a car manufacturer you have a few challenges. I wonder how many of them really understand the implications of what this change in car ownership will mean. From the lack of consideration that most manufactures give to the issues of physiological ageing I think the answer is a resounding NO. Dick Stroud

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Will failing eyesight and dexterity stop me using a smartwatch? Not sure but it will be an issue.

I hate the word 'gadget' but I am not really sure what else to call a smartwatch. I am a perfect customer for such a device, especially if it is from Apple. Will I buy one? Absolutely. Will I used it? I am not so sure.

Don't get me wrong. This reaction is nothing to do with the functionality or some blind prejudice that 'these will never catch on'. My doubt is all totally related to my physical ability to see and touch the thing.

In the past, my natural response when buying a specialist device (like a watch to wear in the gym) was to go for the one with the most functionality. I knew I would never use it all but it would be good fun experimenting.

Now my purchase consideration is 'can I see the characters on the display'. This normally means I buy the basic model. Not so much fun for me. Not so much profit for the manufacturer.

Until I get my hands on the new Apple watch I will not know if the company has cracked the extremely difficult problem of packing a display and interface that an older person can use into something they can wear on their wrist.

One solution to this (my) problem is to increase the size of the display by wrapping it around the wrist. This may not be as far away into the future as you think. Have a look at this article from MIT. 
Dick Stroud

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