'˜Industry overlooks old people in product designs'

Marketeers need to do more to include older generations when designing products and packaging, according to a director of a packaging services firm.

Guy Douglass, strategy director at Parker Williams, at the Visual Media Conference in Leeds.
Guy Douglass, strategy director at Parker Williams, at the Visual Media Conference in Leeds.

Guy Douglass, strategy director of Parker Williams, the creative arm of Bradford-based Sun Branding Solutions, said older people are often overlooked when it comes to product packaging design.

However, speaking at the Visual Media Conference in Leeds, Mr Douglass urged that rather than focusing exclusively on making products accessible for older people there should be an emphasis on including all age groups.

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He said: “Yes old people are overlooked but don’t design packaging that is just for old people. Design packaging that is right for everybody.”

Mr Douglass called on marketeers to focus on psychographics and not demographics, as has traditionally been the case in the industry.

He said: “It’s not about demographics, it’s about psychographics - people’s beliefs, hobbies etc.

“Your lifestyle is not necessarily driven by your age group. It’s driven by your beliefs and understanding of the world and what you do in your spare time. I do triathlons with a woman who is 75.”

The strategy director of Parker Williams added that older generations present a big market that is largely being ignored by the marketing industry.

“The over 50s own about 80 per cent of Britain’s wealth,” he said. “They are a huge market with a lot of disposable income. The kids have left home. They’ve paid off their mortgage. They’re still working. They may well work until they are 70 or 75.”

Mr Douglass added: “Largely they are ignored and it’s such a shame because they are big, big market.”

The reason why older generations are being overlooked is down to the age demographic of the marketing industry, says Mr Douglass.

He said: “Marketeers in retailers and brand owners tend to be quite young. By the time you get to 50 you’re in general management probably.

“The marketing teams just look at people their own age unless they’re someone like Stannah Stairlifts, which is not inclusive, it’s exclusive.”

Kevin Evans, chief information officer at Sun Branding Solutions, said: “There’s nothing wrong with attracting young people [to the marketing industry]. We certainly don’t want to lose the young vibrant feel about it.”

However, Mr Douglass said that the industry needed to design for attitude and not age “so that there is an inclusivity to what you’re doing”.

He added: “It’s just a shame that historically marketing has often been done based on demographic segmentation.

“Psychographics is the way ahead in terms of segmentation of the market, segmentation of people.

“As people continue to get older and continue to be active for longer that will become even more relevant.”

Digital agency Jaywing also presented at the Visual Media Conference.

Rob Shaw, from Jaywing, told The Yorkshire Post that the challenge for the digital industry was understanding the proliferation of data.

He said: “The biggest thing is trying to understand which bits are important. Separating the wheat from the chaff and trying to decide which of it you can use to improve marketing campaigns and which bits of it are actually just noise.”

Jaywing delivered a presentation on measuring brain responses emotionally to visual stimulus. The agency is currently working with two PHD students at Imperial College London.

With data playing more and more of a role in marketing, Mr Shaw said that it was important that organisations are “respectful” of people’s data. But at the same time that data can be used for the consumer’s benefit.

A gathering of the great and the good of communications world

The Visual Media Conference was organised by industry group CDi Yorkshire. It was the fourth year the day-long conference was held and over 200 individuals from the creative, digital, print and packaging industries attended.

Jaguar Land Rover spoke about the company’s history at the event and its pioneering of new technology for marketing purposes.

Louise Scanlan, from Royal Mail MarketReach, gave tips for engaging with customers at different life stages using direct mail.

In addition to the presentations there was a host of exhbition stands at the event hosted at Leeds Beckett University’s Rose Bowl campus.

There was also virtual and augemented reality demonstrations.