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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.

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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The rise in house prices a double edged sword leaving lots of older people with big problems

Back in the pre-recession days, a lot of people in the UK used their house a bit like a piggy bank.

The value of the property asset kept rising, as did the ease of borrowing money using it as collateral. This was too tempting for many people. Fast forward a decade and you have the same people, at the end of their working life (many wishing they were), but still paying a mortgage.

This behaviour was not limited to the UK. In the US, homeowners reaching retirement and still owing money on their houses has risen and risen. The share of Americans 65 and older with mortgage debt rose to 30% in 2011, from 22% in 2001, with increased loan balances ( the median amount owed almost doubling, to $79,000 from $43,400, after adjusting for inflation).

If you are a 30-something marketer reading this you might think  - "don't look to me for sympathy" - and right that you think that. However, it is likely that what is happening to this older group of mortgage debt holders will become the norm for younger people who are delaying the time when they take on mortgage debt.

Most importantly, this is another element of evidence that shows the financial hardship (this equals the spending constraints) that will face a sizeable number of older people. That is what is important and something all ages of marketer need to understand. Dick Stroud

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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Search should support navigation not replace it - especially for older users


The newsletter from Nielsen Norman Group is always worth reading and the most recent edition even more than normal.

The impact of ageing on the way we use web sites is huge. It is not fully understood, but from what we know it means that many companies are unintentionally losing business  because of their hopeless navigation and overall Web design. Older people just give up trying to find what they are looking for and go somewhere else.

Too often designers respond that there is always search (i.e. An unspoken belief that the need for decent navigation is in decline).

Sorry but I don't buy that argument. More importantly, neither do the authors of the newsletter as witnessed in their article 'search is not enough'.

In the same way as we over-estimate the ability of older consumers to understand their financial affairs the same applies to their knowledge of using search - another article from NNg.

A personal observation about how companies use onsite search is that how they present the results is normally hopeless. I have lost count of how many times I have exited the company web site, gone to Google and searched, and then found what I was looking for. Dick Stroud

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