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Forever Young Information

Canada's Adult Lifestyle Publication

UK star set for Age Summit: Renowned British marketing guru Stroud headlines conference

By Don Wall, FYI National Editor
May 14, 2014 - 0 comments

They speak the same language in Britain and Canada, but when UK mature-market master Dick Stroud takes the mic as the keynote speaker at Sheridan College’s Age Aware Summit in Oakville in June, some translation will be necessary.

Stroud is founder of 20plus30, a consulting firm specializing in marketing to older consumers, and author of Marketing to the Ageing Consumer. He speaks perfectly good English – very elegant, in fact, as was in evidence during a recent interview on Skype – but when he addresses his audience on June 12 at the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research summit, they’ll be hearing some unfamiliar jargon. Be prepared: Stroud does not lecture using such terms as boomers, seniors, boom-bust-and-echo, defined-benefit or defined-contribution pensions, the baby boom or even the mature market.

They do things a little differently in Britain, and in the case of Stroud’s specialty, he says, there is an extra degree of sophistication among British companies compared with North Americans.

For starters, there was no baby boom in Britain. There was a peak in births after World War II followed by a trough and another peak later, so in Britain there was no huge age wave for marketers to ride, and thus none of the generalizations North Americans tend to make about boomers. The Brits, it seems, dig a little deeper to understand the psychology of selling to older people.

Says Stroud, “We believe that whilst there is some marketing value in understanding generational characteristics, their usefulness is small compared with understanding the different lifestyle factors of old consumers.”

Discussing terminology, Stroud says Britons “certainly” do not discuss “boomers, because it doesn’t have any meaning in Europe. It is much better understood in the States. Although from research I have read from the States, they don’t really like being called boomers. They do not respond well to it.

“And seniors in the UK has no meaning whatsoever. So my literature, the stuff I write, I tend to talk about older consumers. Rather than putting a barrier around it about what they are, they are people who are going to buy things. They will have different demands and as they get old they will have demands in the age-silo sector and the age-neutral one.”

Expect to hear Stroud delineate between those two sectors in his Oakville speech on June 12. An age silo is when there is a grouping of people of the same age who tend to buy products that others of different ages do not buy. Hearing aids is an example. An age-neutral sector is one in which consumers of all ages make purchases, but in which older folks are still a significant component. Air travel was one example Stroud gave.

“We do some pretty good research in the UK on attitudes by age group, quite a lot of companies do that,” he explained.

“Companies tend to do their own research, bespoke research. [“Bespoke research” is a term used in the UK to describe research that is customized for a particular product market.] They research the range of individuals by age who are buying their products, lifestyle, income, and do research on the basis of positive thinking and negative thinking.”

Canadian marketers tend to fight hard to reach the boomer market and perhaps pay less attention to those 70-plus, who it is assumed might be looking to preserve their wealth, with no employment income to fall back on for growth. This is a big mistake, Stroud argues. He called this older group the Charmed Generation in his first book written nine years ago.

“They had done pretty well in the housing market, they had done pretty well with pensions, low inflation, good employment.

“This group had done pretty well, and it still has. It’s still a group that is worthy of attention from companies who focus on the younger boomers who are at the seashore somewhere, you know, the great stereotype, whereas in reality they are under pressure.”

Sheridan College’s Age Aware Summit, to held June 12, will be hosted by Sheridan’s Centre for Elder Research. To register for the conference, email:  paulina.camino@sheridancollege.ca.

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