Empty nesters respond well to DM

New stage of life research from Royal Mail reinforces industry perception that older generations respond well to direct mail. Specifically empty nesters, categorised as being aged between 55 and 64, are a particularly DM welcoming demographic.

For marketers this predilection is significant as empty nesters are a lucrative market since three quarters of this age group believe that they can afford to splash out on luxury goods sometimes. Whilst seeing the children leaving home can be a sad time, for many parents it presents an opportunity to spend more time and money on themselves, with over a third saying they are comfortable on their present income.

The research reveals that empty nesters spend an average of 18 minutes per day reading their post. Typically they receive between 21 and 35 items of DM every week and the majority of it is opened. Whilst this is out of habit, rather than out of excitement it does present strong opportunities for brands that want to engage with this group. But there are stark warnings, the content must be timely and relevant otherwise it tends to end up on the bin.

The study reveals that empty nesters decide immediately if they will respond to a piece of mail and will keep it if so, leaving it around the house or pinned to a notice board to action in the future. If they do decide to respond they are more traditional than other lifestages preferring to interact with an organisation via traditional means –the phone or post. Digital response to DM drops to 21 per cent amongst empty nesters so printing a telephone number or including a reply card are important for generating engagement from this audience.

Another key learning was the perceived trustworthiness of a mail pack had a significant impact on whether it was kept or thrown away. Personally addressed mail was found to be more effective as it was deemed more trustworthy. This means ensuring that the direct mail has the correct name and address. Mailers sent to goneaways - people that used to live at the house -  were ignored and duplicates sent to multiple family members eroded the good faith felt towards an organisation.

Data hygiene and suppression is therefore key when targeting this demographic – get it wrong and risk alienating a very valuable customer, one that is unlikely to change their mind about your brand in the future. Once their mind is made up they rarely change it.