Thursday, December 27, 2007

Online fraud and the 50-plus

Imagine this situation. You are a marketer working for the UK’s Post Office and have just been given the job of launching and managing the organisation’s broadband service. That’s a bit like Wal Mart starting to sell Porsches.

You might ask yourself why on earth the UK needs yet another broadband supplier. I bet I know the answer. The Post Office did ‘some research’ and found that a lot of older people are not connected to the Internet – especially the 65+ - especially the poor – especially those with little education. I suspect these conditions were lost in the analysis.

The reasons given for not being online were probably a hotchpotch of ‘can’t see the point’, ‘can’t afford it’, ‘don’t know what I would do with it’. Amongst this list would be something to do with the fear of fraud.

Ahhhhh says the Post Office marketer, I am sure we can something about this and immediately commissions a bit more research that of course shows that older people are fearful of fraud – who isn’t?

Since the Post Office is one of those nice cuddly, trusted brands, then who better to wrap their corporate arms around the older person and provide them with their means to connect to the Internet?

To help position the Post Office as a good citizen it needs to pump out its research findings to reinforce the link between itself and the senior surfer. This brings me to its most recent utterings.

Now I don’t mind this approach – in fact it is what I would probably recommend to the Post Office – but it result in UK’s media, including the BBC, being stuffed full of misleading generalisations about older people and fraud.

It is a perfect illustration that the only way to get heard is to shout a single message– even if that grossly simplifies and distorts the truth. Dick Stroud

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