Saga chases consideration amid £8.5m brand building play

Saga is betting big on its shift away from short-term sales to long-term brand building, as it looks to drive consideration amongst experience hungry over-50s.

Saga is hoping to drive consideration by “accurately” showing the spirit of its over-50s customer base, signalling a shift from short-term “sales-based programmatic” to long-term brand building. 

The company is investing £8.5m in new platform ‘Experience is Everything’ to align itself closer to the over-50s mindset, with activations planned until February. Three-quarters of the budget will go into TV, while the rest will go into digital.

Central to the integrated campaign, created by creative agency VCCP, will be a 60-second TV advert starring actor Nicholas Farrell, who takes on perceptions of age and replaces the negative connotations. The creative playfully explores how we label elders ‘old’, as opposed to calling a jacket ‘vintage’, a cheese ‘mature’ or a car ‘classic’.

The spot launches this weekend on primetime TV slots, as well as across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky in the coming months. The campaign also includes digital, influencer campaigns and social media activity.

What we’re really trying to do now is invest and develop a brand purpose.

Stuart Beamish, Saga

Speaking to Marketing Week, Saga Group chief customer officer Stuart Beamish says the brand has “sustained and built” high brand awareness over the years, but this hasn’t “translated into consideration” and hence not sales.

“What we’re really trying to do now is invest and develop a brand purpose. As a more purposeful organisation, we’re taking that step forward and actually not just sell products, but explain why we exist, who we are for and create stronger relevance with our target market. This is a big shift for us as we’ve never done this before,” Beamish explains.

“The primary goal is around brand consideration. We’re trying to support the growth strategy and really open more of the market to Saga.”

While he explained the group, which spans travel to insurance, enjoys “massive awareness” other brands would “envy”, so far this hasn’t converted into the high brand consideration the team would like to see.

“That’s the key metric. And that [consideration] is a long-term sales shifting metric to shift money from short-term performance into the brand,” says Beamish.

Saga last ran a multi-million-pound campaign in 2019 with its ‘The World is Waiting to Meet You’ push.

Power of insight

Beamish points to the groundwork undertaken before committing millions of pounds to the new brand platform.

According to Saga research, over-50s are the fastest-growing demographic in the UK and hold the most spending power. Around 27.9 million people will be over the age of 50 by 2030 in the UK and 63p of every £1 will be spent by people over 65 in 2040.

A survey from the brand also found on average customers feel 14 years younger than they actually are, while 91% of respondents want to experience new things and enjoy active lifestyles.

Participants also said they are more likely to spend on a brand that embraces a positive view of life over 50, focused on experience rather than age. Saga has coined a term for this customer group – ‘Generation Experience’.

Saga overhauls advertising in bid to become member-led organisation“[We have been working with] partners for a number of years really diagnosing all of our marketing activity, [finding out] exactly where we are in terms of brand perception, brand image – and we can see that there’s a headroom opportunity that we need to unlock,” says Beamish.

Unlocking the opportunity will not come from more “sales-based programmatic” advertising, Beamish stressed.

Saga’s target audience was found to be more receptive to positive and empowering messaging when testing the creative with focus groups. Their whole stance towards the brand changed, adds Beamish.

The marketing boss says he has never done so much testing in his life, but explains that through the research the brand has found the energy and “confidence” to drive its new purpose.

Digital boost

Under lockdown, Saga “retreated” from many marketing activities, particularly those for its travel and cruise businesses, and “stocked up” on digital.

“Our target market was the first to go under lockdown,” Beamish notes, while the customer demographic were the age group under lockdown the “longest”.

Saga’s marketing team began developing digital assets, such as social activation the ‘Not Going Out Club’. On Facebook the videos, featuring guests such as former BBC and ITN journalist John Sergeant, brought in 200,000 engagements per week.

The brand also launched a podcast to support its digital content, with guests including Joanna Lumley, Alan Titchmarsh and Prue Leith.

“We saw digital engagement the likes of which we’ve never seen before with our customers. Secondly, and equally as important, is we started to test our capability as a marketing team to be able to do that,” adds Beamish.

“We have a magazine team who’ve been focused on our print magazine, who we could see their ability to start creating content fast and digital. Like many brands the fast change of events forced us to do things quicker.”



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