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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.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

You see the over 65's don't use computers - Ba*****it

Two days ago at 07.00 the UK launched the sale of its 'Pensioner Bonds'. To buy these you had to be 65+.

At 07.20 I tried to log and buy some. The website was overcome by the demand and was showing an 'unable to cope' message.

I keep going and by 08.00 had completed the transaction. Clearly, the online demand was massive.

We learn today that in 48 hours, 110,000 pensioners invested a total of £1.15 billion making this the fastest-selling financial product in modern times.

Let me just say that again - a product that could only be purchased by over-65s, with most of the transaction being completed online, was the fastest selling financial services product - ever.

So much for the digitally excluded oldies.

Of course there are lots and lots of older people who are not able/willing to go online and will have to make do with the phone and post.

The reason why this product was being sold is that the largest holder of savings in the UK  (by far) have seen their income decimated by the artificially low interest rate of 0.5% since mid-2008.

Just a reminder, that a year before they were slashed, the interest rate was 4% and for the period since 1998 the rate oscillated in a range between 4-7%.

No doubt about it, this offering of savings at a rate that was the lowest it had been for the previous couple of decades was a bribe. Certainly the Sunday papers were full of the commentators bitching about how the young are having such a tough time.

What really, really gets annoyed is the dishonesty of journalists that weave a story of intergenerational stress and exclude all of the facts that don's fit the victim tale.

Andrew Rawnsley, somebody who should know a lot better, has done this today.  In his article there is no mention that the old have been the major funders of the UK by seeing their savings and pensions shredded. Young people have never had such a long period of debt relief on their credit card bills and mortgages. You would have thought that was worth a mention?

Bitch over. I guess you don't look to journalists for a balanced view. You would think that I would be old enough to know that. Dick Stroud

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

NHS and local government contracts are turning toxic

I am surprised that it has taken so long to happen but I predict that the events of the last week will turn into an avalanche.

What am I talking about?

A week ago a company called Circle Healthcare, the first private firm to manage an NHS hospital, said it planned to pull out of its contract after two years.

Saga has just announced that it is pulling the plug on the home support services it provides to customers via NHS and local government contracts.

The reason for this is very simple. There just isn't any money to be made working for the state. The state's finances are being squeezed and then squeezed a bit more. If you think this is bad just give it a few more years.

These companies are going to focus on providing services to private payers. It is a no-brainer.

Why would a company want to see its margins squeezed to zilch whilst being open to all sorts of criticism for not providing decent services. In the UK the main opposition party is looking for any chance it can find to rubbish private providers.

It is sad but that is going to be the way of the world. If you cannot afford to pay you will get an ever diminishing level of service provided by an ever diminishing number of companies that are daft enough to work for the state.

The sooner this fragmentation happens the better. In the care home market the private payers are being forced to subsidise those that the state inadequately funds.

If you are going to have to liquidate your assets you might as well get the full benefit from doing it rather than getting a worst service because you are also paying for those the state cannot/will not fund.

There are going to be big bucks made for companies that plug the ever increasing gaps that are emerging as the level of state health and support services disintegrates. Dick Stroud

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Hearing Loss? Denial Doesn’t Work. Trust Me.

Well done AARP in providing advice about hearing loss and well done in engaging Katherine Bouton to write the blog.

My hearing is definitely in decline and I can identify with so much that Katherine writes. These tips for making it easier to engage somebody with hearing loss are great. 

If you want more insights into the issues of hearing loss I cannot praise Katherine Bouton's book enough. Great title: Shouting Won't Help.

When I talk with clients about how hearing loss is something that needs to be taken into account in many of the customer touchpoints you can see they have never thought about what it means to spend you life saying 'pardon me' or 'sorry can say that again'.

Let me give you a real life example.

One of our clients is a hotel group that takes customer service very seriously and they are good at it. Better than most. But their reception staff are often women (harder to hear their voices), they are often non-English speaking (so they tend to be less confident with their voice projection) and the reception areas are often very noisy. Add all of these factors together and it creates one hell of a communications problem. 

What is so annoying is that it is a problem that can be rectified without additional cost. It is not that the staff are being awkward, but nobody has ever explained to them what it is like not hearing what they say.

So well done AARP, the more people that understand the issues of hearing loss the better for us all. Dick Stroud

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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Ageing, poor health and frailty are not necessarily connected. Having a bike helps.

Scientists at King's College London conducted a study of older cyclists.

They found that there was little physical difference between people aged 79 and those aged 55 if they maintained similar levels of exercise.

Now here is the 'catch' - the research team picked super-fit amateur cyclists between 55 and 79 and tested a wide range of physical functions commonly associated with ageing such as aerobic fitness, resting heart rate, skeletal mass, breathing ability and muscle density.

The conclusion was that it is not ageing itself which brings about poor function and frailty, but the fact that people have stopped exercising and are no longer active.

To get into the trial you had to be able to cycle 100 km in under 6.5 hours. Well I guess that rules out about 99.995% of the UK's population.

Smokers, heavy drinkers and those with high blood pressure or other health conditions were excluded. That gives an even more refined group of people.

If you want to spend some money you can buy the paper from the The Journal of Physiology.

Now I find this very interesting and heartening. But it is a bit like the experiment that shows that if you reduce your calorie intake to that consumed by a Hamster you increase your chances of living until 100. 

At the extremes of diet and exercise the rules that apply to vast majority change. As an inquisitive marketer I find this interesting but of little practical value. I want to know what happens to the 95% of my customers.

And one more thing!

We might be in 2015 but the picture editors are still obsessed with showing older people running along beaches. This is the photo that accompanied the article in the Daily Telegraph. 

Why do I think that I will still be griping about this next year. Dick Stroud

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Monday, January 05, 2015

2015 heralds the age of 'post demographic consumerism'

It's early January and that means one thing - forecasts for the coming year.

I have this image of the poor sods that have to come up with these insights huddled in a room in late December trying to come up with something interesting to say. Time is running out and they default to rehashing the forecasts from the previous year or the one before that. In this case, the ones from a decade before.

Well that is what Marketing Week have done with its 'post demographic consumerism' trend.

Good grief it is more like Marketing 101.

If a marketer finds this insightful then God help them. I reproduce it in its spectacular entirety.

Post-demographic consumerism

People of all ages and in all markets are constructing their own identities more freely, according to consumer insights firm TrendWatching.com, because consumers can pick and choose what products and services they purchase and the brands they identify with without any regard to demographic conventions.

The result is ‘post-demographic consumerism’, which suggests brands need to throw out traditional assumptions about consumer behaviour. For example, IAB statistics show that in the UK women now account for the majority of video game players and there are more gamers over 44 than under 18.

The population is also ageing. Government statistics show that 10 million people in the UK are over 65, which will nearly double to 19 million by 2050, meaning targeting this group solely on age is a shot in the dark. IAB’s senior research manager Hannah Bewley advises brands that there is more to understanding audiences than just demographics.

“Think about the vast differences between people who look to be the same on paper based on their demographic profile. One famously cited example of this would be Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne, who were both born in 1948, grew up in England, married twice, have two children, are both wealthy and both like dogs,” she says.

“The key is to appeal to an attitude,” says Hannah Webley-Smith, marketing director UK and Ireland at Benefit Cosmetics. “Success lies in creating a dialogue, having fun with the many faces of our audience and celebrating their beauty however they choose to portray it.”

Age remains an important element of segmentations, though. “With motor insurance, the data shows us that age matters, which is factored into the pricing and our targeting,” says Kerry Chilvers, brands director at Direct Line Group. “But attitude towards risk and protection isn’t clearly defined by any demographic metric, least of all age. So we segment in a much more attitudinal way to allow us to meet an inherent customer need.”

Dick Stroud

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