Heyday collapse exposes flaw in age-led targeting

Mature market experts are highlighting the foolishness of targeting over-50s as an age-defined one-size-fits-all market following the collapse of Heyday, the membership brand launched by Age Concern as a rival to Saga.

The business, a £26-a-year subscription scheme aimed at those nearing retirement and offering promotions and benefits on products and services, is being wound up after the Charity Commission report slammed its governance in a report published this week.

The commission ruled there was not enough evidence of the need for Heyday, and raised doubts as to whether all Heyday activities were clearly charitable.

The report was the final nail in the coffin for a brand which had an “entirely flawed proposition” from the start, according to industry experts.

Kevin Lavery, founder and managing director of specialist over-50s marketing agency Millennium, says the whole concept of Heyday, which launched in 2006 with £22m funding from Age Concern, was wrong because “you should never sell services to older people on the basis of age”.

“I’m in my 50s and I would never visit a website because it was aimed at people my age, but I would read a magazine or look at a site that reflects my hobbies and interests.”

Heyday accrued membership income of £700,000, and the charity ended up pouring in £5m of reserves. It had hoped to recruit 3 million members in five years and 300,000 by March 2007; but by then only 44,000 had joined, despite the launch of a glossy membership magazine put together by Redwood.

Dick Stroud, author of 50 Plus Marketing and founder of marketing agency 20 Plus 30, says Heyday started off on a bad foot by launching its PR several months before it had a website ready, and never recovered.

Specialists say it fell into the common “bear trap” of misinterpreting the Saga proposition.

“If you go on a Saga holiday or buy its insurance because you get a good deal, you automatically get its magazine.

That’s very different to trying to get people to pay a subscription to be part of a club just because they’re over a certain age,” adds Lavery.

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