Marketing to the mature market


Edna Petzen, Residential Forum member

The UK population has been steadily getting older and this trend is
projected to continue in the future. In
2016, there were 11.8 million people aged 65 years and over, representing 18%
of the total population. By 2041 this age group is set to increase to 20.4
million and making up 26% of the total population, with the fastest increase
seen in the 85 years and over age range.

Longevity has been cited as a key factor to this trend.
People are living a more energetic and active lifestyle, which is helping them to
stay healthier longer. However, for those with acute healthcare needs, this
could be complex and may require specialist support and intervention.

The demographic shift is requiring a rethink of how
healthcare systems, pensions, employment, products and services are tailored to
this growing segment of the population.

Research has
indicated that people over 65 years do not think they are adequately served by
businesses, retailers and manufacturers. They expect organisations
to have a sympathetic understanding of the realities of ageing, and to tailor
products and services accordingly.

So with that thought in mind, here are a few tips when engaging the
mature consumer.

Not a homogenous group

Older people are rich and poor, active and disabled. Some are keen to
travel and to explore new possibilities; others will be ready to slow down and
relax. Many will be living independently, or in retirement homes or some other
form of supported housing.

Too often the mature market is seen as one homogeneous
group, yet the wishes of a 55 year old would be very different to those of an
85 year old. Traditionally marketers have used the age demographic to segment
different markets in multiples of 10 years. Yet, the mature market is often
referred to as over 50s or at best 65+.


There is a greater need for marketers and companies to introduce a
broader demographic split that not only uses age, but other characteristics to
better understand the drivers of consumer behavior and motivations. If using
age to segment the market, then a much broader spectrum of age ranges should be
used to denote the differences between age groups. For example, 50-59, 60-69,
70-79, 80-89, 90+. Businesses need to treat this group as heterogeneous and make
sure they are targeting products and services appropriately.

Another important consideration is that whilst people’s needs may
differ, people want to feel included and not be singled out. Inclusion therefore
is an essential driver across the age segments.

Mature, old, elderly?

Using the right term to refer to the mature market can be tricky.
Today’s ageing consumers are fitter, healthier, richer, and more
active than those in previous generations. They want to play a full part
life. They take pride in their appearance and lifestyles. They want to
good and feel good, and they will choose services, products and
that enhance their self-respect.


The mature market want respect and they want to feel that they are
needed to play an important role in society, whether in their communities, in
the workplace, or in their families. Loneliness can be feared as much as, if
not more than, illness. Companies and society as a whole should respect this
need and make sure that people feel treated as valuable members of society
irrespective of their age.

Quality vs quantity

Research shows that mature consumers have a tendency to prefer quality
products, are loyal to brands, and are not in the main price-sensitive—even if
their incomes are below average levels. They may buy fewer items, but tend to
spend more per item and value for money is an important consideration. Therefore
businesses should focus on creating quality products, services and customer experiences
as an essential part of their marketing strategy.


The use of technology is
widespread and 80% of 65-74 year olds are active online either on a computer,
tablet or a mobile phone. People want to be well-informed and will actively
seek out information before committing to a decision and that carries true for
the mature customer. This creates a great challenge and also an opportunity for
businesses to make sure that a key component of their marketing and
communication budget is dedicated to digital.


Literature and information

Dexterity of the hands and eyesight can be affected by ageing. It is
important therefore that information provided in both print and online is
accessible, using fonts that are easy to read, of the right size. That use of
colour and graphics is sensitive within the overall creative design.

Concerns that have been cited from older consumers include not always
being able to read labels properly, even when wearing glasses, or contact
lenses, that product packaging is often difficult to open and labels, prices
and directions can be hard to read.


Mobility can also be affected with ageing and this needs to be borne in
mind when designing products and services for the mature customer. Organisations
should make sure that consideration is given to access points in buildings and
premises, and that physical environments provide sufficient space for people
using walkers and mobility aids, where required.

Promotional activity

In the main advertising continues to be seen as a young person’s game,
despite the research that shows the wealth and spending power of the mature
consumer. It is also disappointing that images portraying older people continue
to be far from ideal, often focused on ‘an old wrinkly hand’ rather than the
person. Such actions add to the negative portrayal and stereotype of older
people. Companies need to do more to make sure that marketing campaigns appeals
to mature consumers and positively represents them both visually and in the written

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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