The 50+ Consumer Join the dots, prepared for axa

A huge opportunity

With news about millennials and Gen Z dominating the headlines, it is easy to forget about the 50+ consumer. However, despite all the excitement around the potential of youth, the older demographic is currently the prominent consumer in our society.

Often referred to as ‘baby boomers’ due to the increased birth-rate after World War II, they have grown up through a consistent period of growth, they have found themselves in a position where they have a strong grip on the property ladder with a secure pension stashed safely away. While millennials are wondering if they will ever stop renting their homes or how the sharing economy will affect their careers, retirees are wondering how to enjoy the golden years of their lives and where to spend their disposable income.

Although they have money and time to spend, there is a sense of alienation and disillusionment for these mature consumers, as brands and the retail environment have been so insistently focused on youth. For brands that break from this ritual, there is a great opportunity to reach a demographic who are confident in what they want and receptive to those who respect the needs and wants of older consumers.

Who is today’s 50+ consumer?


Life expectancy continues to increase and quality of life in these extended years is improving. Through a combination of healthier lifestyles and improving healthcare, we are seeing a healthy, happy and active elderly population. This shift is now challenging the global obsession with youth.


As younger generations struggle, the 55+ demographic represent an enviable generation who are better off than both their parents and their children. In addition to owning the majority of the property in the housing market, they are also strong spenders in areas such as retail and travel.


As the post-war generation, they were born into a period of social change. Throughout the years they have experienced varying governments and economic climates, and as a result they remain the most politically active demographic of society and are engaging with the world more confidently than ever before.


Whilst they weren’t born into the technological age, this group have a natural affinity for the online world. Not only are they becoming effective researchers and shoppers, they are more likely than younger consumers to read blogs and reviews, compare products and prices and provide feedback online.


Rise in the maintenance of healthy lifestyles

Life expectancy continues to increase and quality of life is improving. Through a combination of healthier lifestyles and improving healthcare, we are seeing a healthy, happy and active elderly population.

Expanding on the positive sentiment and actively encouraging healthier lifestyles plays to the demand for a more holistic approach to wellness. Ageing gracefully is about being proactive and preventative, nudging customers towards acting, being and staying younger rather than helping them recapture something they have lost. This is a more general move towards viewing health as a continuous journey of maintenance, rather than changing to a healthier lifestyle only when it is absolutely necessary.

Proactive, not reactive

For health insurers, this is an opportunity to be supportive rather than reactive. Traditionally only considered by the consumer when they need to make a claim, today health insurers can be part of the wellness journey. Rather than being reactive and providing support only after a problem has occurred, be proactive and be ‘always there’ for customers for support.

Nuffield Health’s advertising campaigns are a great example of this supportive, holistic approach to wellness. Their campaign ‘Small Victory’ recognises that fitness is a journey – and Nuffield Health will play an active role in helping them through it.

Today’s health-conscious consumers are better informed and, aided by technology, they are taking control and living smarter. We’ve recognised this in an emerging trend for 2016 – Helping Hand. There are opportunities for brands that are willing to work in collaboration with customers. Offering information and support so they can help themselves, rather than a stark choice between acting on their behalf or leaving them to go it entirely alone.

So what?

  • AXA currently have Active Health, which is a great tool for consumers to track their health through. Could this idea be used in order to help inform health insurance quotes? Perhaps by syncing to an existing wearable tracker, it will be able to determine factors such as what kind of lifestyle the consumer lives (active, sedentary etc.). Furthermore, could Active Health help lower premiums, rewarding the consumer’s loyalty as they become healthier?
  • Active Health could also be made into more of an advertising campaign as it’s a service to shout about!
  • Is there an opportunity for partnerships? We know AXA are doing a great job at the moment with their partnership with PureGym, but could this be expanded into further partnerships? For example, health food delivery companies such as Hello Fresh could reinforce AXA’s loyalty to the customer and provide that ‘helping hand’ to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Finally, can the data held on an existing health insurance customer be leveraged to cross-sell tailored travel insurance - that covers existing issues or conditions?

Work & Retirement

The rise of semi-retirement

We’re seeing more people than ever continuing to work past retirement age, whether it’s reducing hours in their current job or finding something new entirely - to maintain their increasingly healthy and active older lifestyles. In the wake of a lifetime of working, semi-retirement helps us redefine a lost sense of purpose, while wanting to engage with the wider world motivates us to find happiness by actively participating in community life. We see this chiming with the lives of Prosperous Later Years, who are financially comfortable and have time to pursue their interests.

50+ entrepreneurs turn to start-ups

There is an emerging cohort of talented creators, developers and entrepreneurs within the 50+ circles, who understand their own needs and are finding them unfulfilled by their younger counterparts. Retirees are the fastest growing demographic catching the start-up bug.

With more free time and more funds to engage with these projects, websites and apps aimed at the needs of their demographic are increasing. As the tech-literate age creeps ever higher, improving digital tools make these concepts more accessible than ever before. Barclays is utilising under-used areas of stores for 'Maker Spaces' - labs which offer entrepreneurs access to prototyping tools and space to test ideas, while 'Incubator Labs' are designed for fast-growing businesses.

PRIME (The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise) is a charity that was originally established by HRH The Prince of Wales in response to the many letters he was receiving from older people who wanted to work but were being denied opportunities because of their age. Prime has responded to this emerging need for practical advice, support, networking events and workshops, helping enterprising over-50s set up their own firms.

So what?

  • Older entrepreneurs are looking for start-up specific advice and guidance, and for providers to understand that their needs are different from SME’s. For example, a start-up might create their own website, and companies such as Squarespace target this audience with their helpful and easy approach to helping users create their own attractive website with ease.
  • Provide services with a ‘personal touch’ to help reassure and foster trust among older entrepreneurs. Consider Skype / video calling to provide personalised human one-on-one advice from long distances. Banks such as Barclays have this as one of their banking services.

Travel & Leisure

A travel boom

With more wealth and time on their hands, leisure and travel is another sector benefitting from this group – particularly those who have retired fully. Retirees have plenty of free time and can be more flexible than those who only have a certain amount of holiday allowance or are constrained by school timetables. Research shows that 62% of older consumers want to go for a big trip or multiple holidays once they reach pension age – and they’re not just sticking to the traditional cruise. The over-50s now account for the majority of the nation’s spending on travel and tourism - likely to include your Successful Security segment who, with a bit more income, can afford to dream more.

A demand for active and adventurous trips

From sports trips, trekking in remote regions of the world, or even wellness trips involving yoga, older travellers are looking for options which cater to their adventurous tastes while considering their specific needs. Holidays can span from traditional sports like tennis and skiing, through to adrenaline-pumping activities such as abseiling and zorbing or 65+ only singles holidays.

With a renewed focus on living for the moment, consumers are looking for some time to relax and have more fun. We’ve recognised this in an emerging trend for 2016 – Let’s Play. There is a growing demand for brands that are visual, playful, fun and bold, brands that help us realise our inner child – because all work and no play is no fun.

Travel insurance which provides the option to ensure for various forms of active holiday helps to reassure this market that they are sufficiently covered. Brands such as Sports Cover Direct have honed in on this opportunity and have based their brand on providing this service.

Similarly, being open and accepting of age and medical conditions is appealing to this market. AllClear Insurance are a great example of a brand doing this well, with their inclusive and reassuring motto: “Any condition, any age, any destination”.

AllClear Travel Insurance

So what?

  • We know that older consumers don’t want to be thought of as ‘old’. But at the same time, recognise that they may have previous medical conditions or are planning on taking part in activities which require specialist cover. Is there an opportunity to offer more tailored insurance with ‘add-on’ elements, and to be guided through by an expert?
  • There is an opportunity to encourage older consumers to get the most of their holidays by having a non-judgemental attitude towards age. Showing consideration for all lifestyle choices rather than just on age, in order to make an informed decision about insurance prices - as the consumer may be healthier than many who are younger.
  • Through tailored insurance – both medically but also providing cover for active holidays, brands can give consumers the confidence to ‘play’ with peace of mind – knowing they’re adequately covered.


The 50+ consumer is digitally savvy

Whilst they weren’t born into the technological age, this group have a natural affinity for the online world. Not only are they becoming effective researchers and shoppers, they are engaging on a deeper level than younger generations, as they are more likely than younger consumers to read blogs and reviews, compare products and prices and provide feedback online. E-consultancy reports that the categories preferred by older people include automotive, travel, finance, telecommunications and gambling.

In another trend we’ve identified for 2016, Do it For Me, consumers are looking to technology to work in the background, connecting things up seamlessly, predicting and anticipating their needs before they even know themselves what they want. This is likely to resonate with busy Modest Mid-Years who are time short and looking for super convenience.


E-tailing is seeing a boom in spend from older shoppers as the vast majority are shopping online weekly. This is through a variety of devices such as laptops, PCs and tablets – devices with the biggest interfaces and the easiest level of control for the user. Of course it’s important to have a responsive design to work on these different sized screens, but brands are making new website innovations to ensure an even easier usability. There is also increasing expectation that activities carried out on one device will be pulled through when the user continues on another - in the same way Netflix ‘remembers’ where a viewer has got to in a programme when they switch between devices.

Making things even easier, Santander released a Siri-like voice assistant for its UK banking app in March this year. The free SmartBank mobile app can answer spoken questions regarding money spent during a prompted time frame, providing real-time details of transactions made. Voice activation makes for easier use on tablets and smartphones, removing the need to type, or navigate websites for the correct page.

By making online content as easy as possible to use, brands are ensuring older consumers are spending more time on their websites, more time reading about their products, and are ensuring consumers are having a relaxed time whilst doing so.

So what?

  • Ensure platforms such as websites are responsive and are easy to use from an older consumers perspective. Consider innovations such as voice-activation to increase usability.
  • As we know, older consumers spend more time reading reviews and content online. This reinforces the relevance of AXA’s existing partnership with Feefo, as older consumers value product reviews and opinions.
  • Can web forms make use of auto-correct to prevent the frustration of accidentally misspelled words?
  • For ease of use, could help functions such as the live chat be made clearer, and the need to register removed?


Market products focusing on consumer needs, rather than age

Companies’ efforts to engage ageing consumers through advertising has often missed the mark. Mature British consumers have felt that advertising portrays them negatively, honing in on their age as a defining feature – something which isn’t relatable. This has been slowly improving within certain industries and we’re seeing a positive response to the shift of products aimed at ageless needs that resonate with the mature consumers.

This shift towards individuality is a trend we have recognised for 2016 – All About Me. We’re seeing a celebration of difference, individualism and greater self-expression, people want to be valued for being themselves, quirks and all. There are opportunities for brands that celebrate not just diversity, but individuality.

Old Mutual’s Retirement campaign is an example of targeting the retirement needs of consumers, rather than their age. They recognise retirement for many is about adventure. Breaking the conventional retirement campaigns about ‘settling down’, Old Mutual are ‘redefining retirement’ by depicting an active older couple cycling around Europe for charity in retirement.

Content Marketing and Influencer Marketing

Following the trend of ‘silver surfers’ shopping online more and more, insurers are reaching out through digital channels through content marketing. We know that older consumers are likely to spend more time thoroughly reading content than their younger counterparts.

A great example of a brand producing great content for the older consumer is Skipton Financial Services. Skipton have the ‘Retire Savvy’ website featuring articles, blog posts and advice all about retirement, even featuring real-life adventure stories from retirees.

Route 66 at 66 article on Retire Savvy

Influencer marketing has exploded in recent years and consumer publishing has empowered individuals to attract their own audiences and become as influential as some of the companies they buy from. It opens up a new channel for brands to connect with consumers more directly, more organically, and at scale. For example, High50 (a lifestyle webzine for the 50+) has a ‘start up’ section featuring success stories from mature influencers. These are not only relatable to the older consumer, but they more generally help to project a positive, successful representation of this age group.

So what?

  • Travel insurance companies can benefit from this trend by providing content and travel inspiration for ‘active’ holidays targeting the 50+ market.• Travel insurance companies can benefit from this trend by providing content and travel inspiration for ‘active’ holidays targeting the 50+ market.
  • Consider digital channels (blog / Facebook / Pinterest etc.) from which to produce and share interesting and informative content in line with products. This could be anything from inspiration for cars, holidays, homes, as well as general advice guides.
  • Consider who would benefit from a specific product and whether this crosses multiple generations – if so, multi-generational marketing could help target the older audience without alienating them.
  • Consider using success stories from mature influencers to resonate with consumers of the same age.


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