Germaine Greer’s recent comment that advertisers were not
interested in selling to a 61-year-old woman certainly does not hold
true in direct mail, where in the past year almost 2000 companies
targeted the 60-plus age groups with campaigns.
Although some mass-volume mailers (particularly credit card firms) may
target older age groups to find niches which are not saturated with
advertising, most direct marketers are savvy enough to recognise the
potential of the grey market.
Some 18% of the UK population is of pensionable age, and over the past
few years the fastest-growing population groups were the over-85s,
whereas there has been a fall of 11% in the 16 to 29 age group. And far
from being treated as a homogeneous group, direct marketers are
targeting the older age group’s complex consumer requirements in
For the year to May, DM to the 60-plus age group accounted for 31% of
mailing volumes, with an estimated spend of pounds 430m. Charity mailers
topped the list of those targeting older people, but companies such as
MBNA, BCA, Saga, Barclaycard and Britannia Music are among those who
consistently target this market.
Interestingly, the companies most targeting older groups over the past
year remains fairly constant across all age bands, with MBNA topping the
list of the 1293 mailers targeting those aged 70-plus, as well as the
518 firms mailing those aged 80-plus.
Jeremy Ridgway is an associate director of ACNielsen MMS.
A weekly analysis of the direct marketing field in association with
Direct mail and the grey market
Company Estimated spend % of all direct
targeting 60-plus mail spend
age groups year
to May 2000 (pounds m)
MBNA 13.36 25.3
Cornhill Direct 9.33 62.4
Readers Digest 7.84 35.8
BCA 7.59 26.0
Damart 6.95 56.0
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter 6.89 31.6
Saga 6.80 63.0
Barclaycard 6.29 23.1
Capital One 5.42 19.8
JND 5.13 57.4
Lloyds TSB 4.71 29.2
Telegraph Group 4.37 26.3
Empire Stores 3.94 33.5
GUS 3.71 24.1
JD Williams 3.68 40.5
Goldshield Healthcare 3.55 33.1
Bradford Exchange 3.44 39.9
Britannia Music Company 3.32 17.0
Liverpool Victoria 3.26 34.6
Publishers Clearing House 3.09 27.9
ACNielsen MMS monitors direct mail activity and spend using a panel of
10,000 people profiled and weighted to be representative of the UK
population. Spend is estimated by multiplying grossed-up mailing volumes
against average post and production costs for mailpacks in each area.
Data does not include requested items, door-drops or inserts. Detailed
information on direct mail is available via marketmovements.com.