Currently older retirees, whether they are living on their own or as a couple, watch more TV than anyone else and have the lowest usage of online media, but they do have the highest appreciation of direct mail.
Of course, behaviours will change over time but, according to The Life Stages of Mail research by Royal Mail’s MarketReach, addressed mail is still very effective for advertisers targeting an older audience.
In fact, 35% of this group (of which two thirds are aged over 65) have renewed an existing service after receiving a reminder in the post. According to TGI, they are also most likely to respond by post.
Older retirees will often file relevant bills, statements, brochures and vouchers in specific places around the house and retain mail from local traders for ages because they might need a product or service in the future.
Communicating good value via direct mail will engage retirees
Financially people at this life stage describe themselves as ‘comfortable’, but they are living on their investments and pension so are careful with money. Some 76% are ‘coping’ on their current income and are happy to engage with brands that offer real value and discounts. Saga is one of the most famous brands targeting this life stage and numbers have increased as more baby boomers have reached retirement.
Saga’s customer base is on the up as more people are reaching retirement age
Saga Group’s head of marketing Tanya Hills says older retirees are gradually increasing their use of online media and the content they look at can trigger a direct mail campaign.
“For us it is becoming less about volume and even more about relevance,” says Hills. “If we see people looking at specific pages on our website, perhaps around our insurance or money services, we will launch a specific mail campaign.”
Saga has an 11 million-strong consumer database which it actively targets with addressed mail. “Personalised and branded mail works well with this group,” says Hills. “Older people also respond to well-written mail, and that includes mail that is grammatically correct. Recipients will let us know if they find a typo, which demonstrates how engaged they are with the medium.”
Saga’s direct marketing team are briefed on how to write and craft traditional letters that are not salesy and get to the point swiftly.
Short but sweet – retirees like direct mail to get to the point quickly
“Longer letters do not work for us. Older people want to know quickly why a piece of mail is relevant to them. They also prefer to contact a call centre after receiving a letter, although more are coming on to our website.”
She adds that older retirees love to read testimonials from other customers. This validates the marketing messages in people’s minds and builds trust. They also like to browse through brochures, perhaps for a holiday, and read stories of older people enjoying themselves.
Retires trust mail and marketers can use it to reassure this ‘life stage’
Saga understands clearly the respect older retirees have for printed material, built up throughout their lives. Print is such a familiar medium to them that 75% say they would feel less in control of their lives without printed copies of important documents.
Any mail content must also acknowledge that many people at this life stage are driven by religion, conservation and patriotism. Brands also need to be sensitive to why an older person is on his or her own. They might have recently lost a partner.
Older retirees’ preference for printed mail means they can rely on it for information and for reassurance, especially if a brand they have had a relationship with for many years changes in some way.
When the Co-Operative Group sold Co-operative Pharmacy to Bestway Group for £620m last year, the shops were rebranded as Well Pharmacy as part of a £200m investment.
Many customers of the 780 pharmacies scattered across the UK are older people who rely on their local pharmacist for healthcare advice, prescription management, treatment of minor ailments and general wellbeing products.
The company did a large door drop to 1.4 million homes to support the rebrand, build brand awareness and assure customers they had nothing to worry about.
“Up to 40% of our customers are aged over 70 and our research reveals they can be creatures of habit when it comes to which pharmacy they use,” says senior marketing manager Caroline Twells. “They like to see a familiar face, and a pharmacy is very much part of the local community.”
The rebranding began in October with up to 40 stores are week being revamped.
“We looked at the profile of households within a 1.5 mile radius of each branch and delivered branch-specific leaflets that explained that people would see the usual pharmacy team and receive the same service as before. We included coupons to get people to come and see what we had done and to get them shopping again.”
Twells adds that when it comes to more complex messaging older customers prefer traditional media and have the time to read through mail sent by brands. The Well Pharmacy direct mail campaign was linked to local press advertising, PR and an outdoor campaign to explain that only the name had changed and it was business as usual.
The years of experience older people have with direct mail means they realise quickly whether something is relevant to them and offers any value. If it does they will consider, share and save mail. If it doesn’t, they will view it as intrusive and are more likely than people at any other life stage to discard an item immediately.
- 72% like to receive relevant mail
- 32% responded to mail in the past year
- 43% keep mail for reference
- 54% appreciate informative unaddressed mail from local authorities
- 34% say it is more important to do your duty than live for your own enjoyment