Understanding the mobility market - Accord

Understanding the mobility market

2017

in partnership with

Foreword

The mature market is booming!

By 2033, the percentage of the UK population aged over 65 is expected to increase to 23% - over double what it was in 2008. Moreover, they will be the biggest and richest group of pensioners in history, with many spending more time in retirement than they did working, exploring old interests and discovering new ones. Against this background, the growth potential for brands that move quickly to understand and engage with this audience is enormous. But it’s clear to us that this diverse group has many different needs, motivations and desires - all of which drive how they engage with brands and, consequently, how brands must engage with them. Accord’s latest white paper focuses on the mobility market. Produced in partnership with Silver Travel Advisor, it looks at media channels and opportunities, buying habits and personalisation, technology and the consumption of content and asks the question: are brands effectively marketing products in line with how the over-50s see themselves? The findings are both interesting and thought-provoking. Whilst many marketers picture the over-50s as traditionally-minded, technologically illiterate and out-of-touch, nothing could be further from the truth. In the technology sector, for instance, it’s clear that older customers are out in force. Once complicated and expensive, technology is now simple to use and very affordable - highlighting the need for brands to have a clear understanding of how their audiences are consuming content across devices. Offering actionable advice and invaluable industry insights, this white paper is essential reading for business owners, marketing managers and digital strategists working in the mobility sector.

Sally Winfield, CEO Accord Marketing

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Executive summary This research was commissioned by Accord Marketing to examine whether there is a distinct void between how mobility brands market their products and the way in which their customers perceive themselves. It explores buyer behaviour in the over-50s market throughout the path to purchase to identify the most effective channels, and how marketing can challenge the stereotypes that currently pervade the advertising landscape. It was carried out through an online survey that was sent to a database held by Silver Travel Advisor in the target age group of over-50s mobility product owners, specifically requesting responses from people who had bought a mobility product. Almost 300 responses were received. There was also a posting on the Silver Travel Advisor Facebook page, which has nearly 34k followers, to encourage additional responses. The main reason selected for buying a mobility product is to improve mobility outside the home, giving more independence, freedom and dignity. When seeing advertisements for mobility products, respondents want to see honesty, plenty of information, representative images and videos of the product in use and transparent pricing. A clear majority of respondents (92%) stated that they were involved in making the decision on which product to buy and the main reason cited for repurchasing from a company was excellent customer service (34%); 25% selected on product quality and 18% on price and discounted offers. Recommendation is clearly an extremely important source of referrals; 89% stated that they would be likely to recommend their supplier. The most important method of referral and recommendation is word of mouth. Facebook was by far the most popular social media channel for 80% of respondents. Searching for information through the internet was the most popular option (33%) next to receiving recommendations from family and friends (24%). The vast majority (88%) said that there was no particular time of the year when they would buy a mobility product. Research objectives The path to purchase • Explore buyer behaviour throughout the awareness -> consideration -> purchase -> advocacy stages. • Provide a better understanding of what makes customers act to buy and what deters them e.g. cost v perceived benefit. • Identify which channels are most prominent when buying a mobility product. Who is involved in the buying decision? Is it a distress purchase or life-enhancing? The survey aimed to:

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• Gain key learnings for exploring new channels to reach this market segment and improve marketing messaging. Business retention The survey aimed to: • Determine whether consumers prefer to use their current supplier, or an alternative provider.

• Understand the key motivators for behavioural change among this age group.

• Contribute towards a strategy that will help to retain more customers, increase income yield of existing customers and attract more potential customers.

• Understand any seasonality trends within the mobility market.

• Identify what the market is looking for – better customer service, or discounted deals?

Looking forward

We examined the following questions:

• Is the current marketing reflecting how the over-50s perceive themselves?

• How can the marketing in this sector develop from distress purchase to life-enhancing?

• How can brands capture the people in this market who do not feel “old enough” to be considering a mobility product? Background - the ageing population Quite simply, because of its sheer size and owing to market demographics in common with other European countries - the UK has an ageing population and with age comes different physical needs. The percentage of the UK population over the age of 65 is projected to increase from 16% in 2008 to 23% by 2033 – that’s a near 50% increase in less than 25 years. However, these figures only tell half the story as the percentage of very old people is growing even more rapidly. There are currently three million people aged 80+ in the UK – this figure is predicted to double by 2030 and to reach a staggering 8 million people by 2050. Moreover, there are currently 11.6 million people aged 65 or over living in the UK. Many are experiencing what it is like to live with mobility challenges and other conditions commonly associated with being older, either because it’s happening to them or to someone they care for. The number of one-person households increases considerably alongside age, with 54% of all over-75s living alone. 1 Age-related disability The prevalence of disability rises with age: in 2012/13, 7% of children were disabled (0.9 million), compared to 16% of adults of working age (6.1 million), and 42% of adults over state pension age (5.1 million). There are more disabled women than men in the UK. 2

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Experiencing a deterioration in health, whether it’s a sudden change from a fall for example, or a physical frailty, disability or cognitive issue, can leave an individual feeling fearful, useless or overwhelmed. Family members may have had little or no experience in caring for an older or disabled person and, suddenly, they need to become an expert in an area which is entirely new to them. Many people do not feel able to cope, and muddle through as best they can. Some may go into care, unaware there are simple solutions available that could keep them independent for longer. And even if they are aware that there could be products out there to help them, with such a huge range of equipment and advice available when searching for products that can suit an individual’s specific requirements, some find it hard to even know where to start looking. The mobility market size The disabled consumer market is set for growth; as the population ages, the prevalence of disability increases. 23% of the population will be over 65 by 2033; people over 65 hold unmortgaged equity estimated to be worth £460 billion and nearly half of over- 65s expect to access this wealth. 3 Inevitably, with age and limited mobility will come a realisation that life can be made much easier with assistance – whether this is through specially adapted vehicles or with the help of assistive living technology. In terms of market spend, the stairlift sector has spent nearly £4million on advertising in 2017 so far. In 2016, spend reached £5,533,653 for the entire year, demonstrating clear growth in the sector year-on-year. 4 Advice and guidance It’s increasingly common for family members to be long distance carers. Having access to a wide range of advice and products can help individuals and relatives make informed decisions and relevant lifestyle changes suitable to their changing needs – all of which can help an individual remain independent in their home, and provide the carer with peace of mind. Cost can often be a key limitation for some, and it isn’t always necessary to go out and buy expensive gadgets - simple DIY solutions can often help in the first instance. Many will deny ageing and do not plan ahead for associated eventualities – typically they will only seek advice after an event or crisis has occurred, by which point a situation could be all the more distressing for those involved.

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The research survey Methodology

This online survey was sent to a database of 56,000 contacts held by Silver Travel Advisor in September 2017, specifically requesting responses from those who had bought mobility aids, and over 270 respondents completed all 27 questions. There was also a posting on the Silver Travel Advisor Facebook page, which has nearly 34k followers, to encourage additional responses. Survey results Q1: Which of the following mobility products do you currently own? Please tick as many as apply to you.

67% of respondents owned a mobility scooter, 40% a wheelchair, 44% a walk-in bath or shower/wet room, 44% a recliner chair and 23% an adjustable bed. Only 16% owned a stairlift.

Q2: Which is the mobility product you bought most recently?

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The most popular recent purchase was a mobility scooter by far at 46%. 16% had bought a recliner chair, 13% a wheelchair, 7% a walk-in bath or shower/wet room and 5% an adjustable bed. Other responses included (10%) walkers, rollators, bath chairs, power chairs and walking sticks.

Q3: How long have you been using the mobility product you bought most recently?

52% of those surveyed had been using a mobility aid for more than a year and 21% of these for over 3 years.

Q4: Thinking about your most recent purchase, were you involved in making the decision as to which one to buy?

The clear majority of respondents stated that they were involved in making the decision on which product to buy (92%).

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Q5: If yes, please continue to question 7. If no, who decided on the product you now own?

Of those who said that they were not involved in the decision as to which product to buy, 34% said that the main decision-maker was their partner, 25% their daughter, 19% their carer and 16% their close friend. Only 3% said sons were involved in any purchase decision. Other decision-makers cited in comments were social workers, hospitals, local councils and charities.

Q6: What was the age of the person who decided?

55% of decision-makers on mobility products were over the age of 60, 23% between 50-59 and 23% under the age of 49. Only 3% were between 18-29.

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Q7: How long did you spend researching which product to choose before purchasing?

The highest percentage of respondents took less than 1 week to carry out research on which product to buy (25%). 22% took 1-2 weeks and 24% 3-4 weeks. 24% took 1-6 months and only 5% over 6 months.

Q8: Why did you purchase your most recent mobility product?

For 66% their main reason for buying a mobility product was to improve their mobility outside the home. 45% said that in doing so it gave them more independence, freedom and dignity. 24% stated that it gave them more accessibility within the home and only 5% said their reason for buying was to avoid having to move to new accommodation.

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Q9: What was the most important factor to you when looking to buy it?

This question prompted a wide range of responses across the options given. The option with the highest percentage of responders was ease of use at 51%. There were also a high number of responses to affordability (47%). Being able to test the product was considered to be reasonably important (31%) as was home delivery (25%). Interestingly, ease of installation was a criterion selected by relatively few respondents (8%), so too the option to remove and resell (6%).

Q10: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being extremely positive, and 1 being extremely negative), how has this mobility product impacted your life?

The response to this question prompted a high average score of 9 on a scale of 1-10. Many cited the ability to fit the mobility aid in the boot of a car as being important and for it to be light and easy to manoeuvre.

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• “Before the electric wheelchair I was unable to leave the home alone, as I am not allowed to self-propel, so I could only go out when it was convenient for others and only do things they would want to do as well, now I can go where and when I want alone.” • “My elderly mother is far less able to walk any distance and often has major back problems and dizzy spells, so having the wheelchair means I can still get her out and about and she can also push it and walk a bit when she feels up to it.” • “The recliner chair helps mother as it raises her feet up and lessens swelling of ankles. She is a bit frightened using it to tip her up out of the chair though... prefers to lever herself up, but she will recline it a bit to rest but not far.” • “It has made life easier to do small tasks like just popping it into the car to go to the supermarket rather than the task of loading up my scooter and I think it’s better for visiting museums etc. as it’s more maneuverable than my scooter. It also gives my grandchildren great fun racing me about!” • “Having a powerchair gives me the independence to do the things I want to do, from going to Quaker Meeting to shopping, choosing the clothes I want to wear for example, to going to the cinema and theatre, just being a normal human being. My chair is also fitted with appropriate support and cushioning to minimise the pain of sitting, making my life infinitely more enjoyable.” • “It gets my husband out and down the town that he had stopped doing. It also helped me, he went out with the dogs (that I had to do three times a day) so at least I had only to take them out once or twice, that was a great help. He’s much happier now as he has a chat to the other dog walkers. Comes home and tells me all the gossip, which makes me chuckle too, so everyone is in a better place all because he finally got a scooter. I must say it took the whole family to talk him into buying one.” • “My scooter gives me independence and I am now part of the human race again... not hindering friends and family when I go out. It’s so handy to take on a plane, very light and folds down into any car. So maneuverable and ‘cool’ to look at. I don’t look disabled.” Q11: Please add any comments about how it has impacted your life and include specific details where possible: Selected comments:

• “It has given me back the ability to fully participate in family life outside the home as well as ensuring I am still able to do my job and contribute to the family income.”

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Q12: Are you likely to recommend your most recently purchased mobility product?

Recommendation is clearly an important source of referral business for providers, as 89% stated that they would be likely to do so.

Q13: If yes, how will you recommend it?

The most important method of referral and recommendation was word of mouth. Other than the 10% who stated they would recommend through social media and only 3% visited review sites.

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Q14: In general, is there a particular time of year you would look to purchase a mobility product?

88% said that there was no particular time of the year when they would buy a mobility product. Of all the seasons Spring was the most likely season at 7%.

Q15: When looking to purchase mobility products in general, where do you look for inspiration?

Searching for information through the internet was the most popular option at 33%, next to having recommendations from family and friends (24%). Low on the list of research options were newspaper or magazine promotions (5%), social media (4%), online advertising (3%) and TV advertising (1%). 7% said that they would select a brand already known to them.

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Q16: If you plan to buy from the same company you purchased from before, what would be your main reason?

The main reason cited for repurchasing from a company was excellent customer service (34%). 25% selected product quality and 18% on price and discounted offers.

Q17: What could the company you bought from do to encourage your customer loyalty?

Discounted offers (31%) and follow-up communications (30%) were both selected as being important in engendering loyalty and to encourage repeat purchasing. 16% selected better customer service as being a key selection criterion. In anecdotal responses, cheaper product maintenance packages were cited, product insurance deals and short loans before purchase.

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Q18: If you plan to buy from a new mobility company, why would you choose to do so?

Positive reviews and recommendations were selected by 36% of respondents as being an influence on their decision to move to a new product provider; 32% said cheaper products and discounts. 22% would be persuaded to change supplier by better product quality and 23% by a better understanding of their needs.

Q19: When seeing advertisements for mobility products... Selected positive comments included:

• “Truthfulness about how many people have bought and liked the product.”

• “I like it if they link to YouTube videos showing the product in use.”

• “Able to see photographs of the products.”

• “Most are very clear and go into detail which allows me to see if it suits my needs.”

• “I like clear information about the item and clear pricing.”

• “They give a positive view of how the equipment promotes independence.”

• “The fact that they are advertising, public coverage.”

• “It is good to see them in action and to read user reviews.”

• “Clear outline of advantages and limitations of use.”

• “Detailed information on product specification and reviews by other owners.”

• “Plain language. No gimmicks.”

• “Make them look attractive and fun to use.”

• “I like to see some technical details e.g. the range in miles with a scooter.”

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Selected negative comments included: • “I wish the product showed younger people using them; you don’t have to be old to be disabled.” • “Lots! Use younger disabled people, not just the elderly. Also use a disabled person to demonstrate things, not an able-bodied person.” • “They all put a positive spin on everything they sell which is obviously what adverts are supposed to do, but often they suggest things which do not seem to happen in real life.”

• “I hate that it’s always older people in adverts. Young folk are disabled too sadly!”

• “I dislike them hawking ‘independence’ but then showing carers pushing wheelchairs in every photo.”

• “Not having sufficient information or no prices.”

• “Really dislike them...feel they are patronising.”

• “Dislike seeing people who are obviously not disabled advertising products.”

Q20: How can mobility brands better represent you in their promotions?

35% of respondents said that they were younger than those portrayed in promotions for mobility products and 20% that they were older. 23% responded that they were more active than portrayed and 23% less active/able.

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Selected anecdotal comments included:

• “Use real disabled people instead of young slim models.”

• “I don’t trust adverts on their own. I just don’t relate to the person they portray.”

• “I actively avoid their promotions as I find them superficial and condescending.”

• “Overall ability of the scooter i.e. accessing hills/slopes, slightly high kerbs. Overall performance of the scooter.”

• “I’m interested in what is being offered and the benefits I might gain from the product - not the human model!”

Q21: And finally, which age group are you currently in?

The majority of those surveyed were over the age of 60 (81%), of whom 42% were between the ages of 60-69.

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Q22: What is your employment status?

Most respondents who completed the survey were retired (87%) and only 8% employed either full-time or part-time. Many of the comments explained that they were too sick or disabled to be employed.

Q23: Which social media channels (if any) do you use?

Facebook is by far the most popular social media channel for 80% of respondents. 27% used Google+ and 22% YouTube. 14% did not use social media at all.

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Q24: How do you prefer to keep up-to-date with the news?

62% chose the television to keep up-to-date with the news, followed by online (51%), newspapers (32%) and radio (18%).

Q25: Are you male or female?

78% of those surveyed were female and 22% male.

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Q26: Are you: married, divorced, in a relationship, widowed or single?

69% of respondents were either married or in a relationship or civil partnership. 22% were single or widowed.

Summary of results The majority of those surveyed were over the age of 60 (81%), of whom 42% were between the ages of 60-69 and were retired (87%) and only 8% employed either full- time or part-time. 78% of those surveyed were female and 22% male. 69% of respondents were either married or in a relationship or civil partnership. 22% were single or widowed. Of those surveyed, 67% of respondents owned a mobility scooter, 40% a wheelchair, 44% a walk-in bath or shower/wet room, 44% a recliner chair and 23% an adjustable bed. Only 16% owned a stairlift. The most popular recent purchase was a mobility scooter by far at 46%; others included recliner chairs, wheelchairs, walk-in baths or shower/wet rooms, and adjustable beds. Other responses included walkers, rollators, bath chairs, power chairs and walking sticks. 52% of those surveyed had been using a mobility aid for more than a year and 21% of these for over 3 years.

The path to purchase

The decision-makers

• The clear majority of respondents stated that they were involved in making the decision on which product to buy (92%). • Of those who said that they were not involved in the decision as to which product to buy, 34% said that the main decision-maker was their partner, 25% their daughter, 19% their carer and 16% their close friend. Only 3% of sons were involved in any purchase decision. Other decision-makers cited in comments were social workers, hospitals, local councils and charities.

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• 55% of decision-makers were over the age of 60, 23% between 50-59 and 23% under the age of 49. • The highest percentage of respondents took less than 1 week to carry out research on which product to buy (25%). 22% 1-2 weeks and 24% 3-4 weeks. 24% took 1-6 months and only 5% over 6 months.

• The main reason for buying a mobility product was to improve mobility outside the home to give more independence, freedom and dignity.

• The question on what was most important when looking to buy prompted a wide range of responses across the options given. The highest percentage of respondents cited ease of use at 51%. There were also a high number of responses to affordability (47%). • Being able to test the product was considered to be reasonably important (31%) as was home delivery (25%). Interestingly, the ease of installation was a criterion selected by relatively few respondents (8%), so too the option to remove and resell (6%). • The question on the impact of the mobility product on quality of life prompted a high average score of 9 on a scale of 1-10. Many cited the ability to fit the mobility aid into the boot of a car as being important and for it to be light and easy to manoeuvre.

Most prominent channels

• Recommendation is clearly an extremely important source of referral business for providers, as 89% stated that they would be likely to do so.

• The most important method of referral and recommendation was word of mouth. Other than the 10% who stated they would recommend through social media and only 3% visited review sites. • Facebook is by far the most popular social media channel for 80% of respondents. 27% used Google+ and 22% YouTube. • Searching for information through the internet was the most popular option at 33%, next to having recommendations from family and friends (24%). Low on the list of research options were newspaper or magazine promotions (5%), social media (4%), online advertising (3%) and TV advertising (1%). 7% said that they would select a brand already known to them. • 62% chose the television to keep up-to-date with the news, followed by online (51%), newspapers (32%) and radio (18%). • 88% said that there was no particular time of the year when they would buy a mobility product. Of all the seasons, Spring was the most likely season to purchase (7%).

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Business retention

• The main reason cited for repurchasing from a company was excellent customer service (34%). 25% selected product quality and 18% selected price and discounted offers. • Discounted offers (31%) and follow-up communications (30%) were both selected as being important in engendering loyalty and to encourage repeat purchasing. 16% selected better customer service as being a key selection criterion. In anecdotal responses, cheaper maintenance packages were cited, product insurance deals and short loans before purchase. • Positive reviews and recommendations were selected by 36% of respondents as being an influence on their decision to move to a new product provider; 32% said cheaper products and discounts. 22% would be persuaded to change supplier by better product quality and 23% by a better understanding of their needs. This research reinforced the view that this market feels younger, and are more active than the way in which they are represented in promotions. When seeing advertisements for mobility products, respondents want to see honesty, plenty of information, representative images and videos of the product in use and transparent pricing. 35% of respondents said that they were younger than those portrayed in promotions for mobility products and 20% that they were older. 23% responded that they were more active than portrayed and 23% less active/able. Perception vs. reality

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Conclusions

Distress purchase to life-enhancing

The impact mobility products have on quality of life is clearly appreciated and prompted a high average response. Clearly, products are perceived as being life-enhancing and this can be highlighted in promotional campaigns as being a significant benefit to the end user, who are by far the majority of the decision-makers on product purchase. “My wheelchair gives me independence and being part of the human race again... not hindering friends and family when I go out. It’s so handy to take on a plane, very light and folds down into any car. So manoeuvrable and ‘cool’ to look at. I don’t look disabled.”

Looking forward

Broadly speaking, the over-50s suffer from stereotyping as a conservative, traditional and even closed-minded group with declining health. However, this contrasts with the cohort’s own perceptions as a high proportion describe themselves as open-minded, charitable, healthy and even adventurous. 1 Clearly there are opportunities to target both generational and disability stereotyping in advertising campaigns. Brands need to capture the people in this market who do not feel “old enough” to be considering a mobility product through more engaging messages and imagery. Many advertisers continue to treat the over-50s as one large aggregate group, failing to observe many of the differences between a person in their 50s and one in their 80s. Brands could enjoy better engagement with older consumers by creating campaigns and innovations that show they understand and fully appreciate the subtle differences between these demographics.

References 1. Mintel Report Marketing to the over-55s, UK August 2017 2. Department for Work and Pensions, July 2014, Family Resources Survey 2012/13 3. London Mental Health (2014), The invisible costs of mental ill health 4. Nielsen Consumer Insights

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David Johnson Agency Director

accordmarketing.com @accordmarketing

0161 200 8316 david.johnson@accordmarketing.com

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