Why marketers need to take notice of the increasing mortality rate

The UK’s mid-year population figures have recently been released by ONS and show that over the last 12 months there have been 623,000 deaths. This is 20,000 more than the previous year, an increase of three per cent. The data shows that there has been a rise in mortality rates amongst most age groups, not just people aged 70 and over. The data also shows that the rise in mortality is not attributable to an ageing population – i.e. the number of deaths go up because there are more people in their 70s, 80s, 90s and 100s than ever before; it reveals that proportionally more people in every age categories are dying than in the past,

So what does this mean? Well apart for the concerning trend that the UK’s life expectancy is now the worst in Europe; for businesses it will also have quite a significance. The data shows that organisations’ customer databases will be degrading faster than the average 30 per cent per annum as more people are passing away. This means that businesses are more likely to accidentally communicate with customers that have died, which causes upset to their loved ones that have been left behind. There are many examples of brands that have inappropriately contacted the deceased – such as PayPal telling a deceased customer that by dying she was in breach of their Ts and Cs or Thomas Cook sending brochure to someone that had passed away outlining ‘their next big adventure.’

These incidents are never purposeful, but they do cause distress to the bereaved, which is proven to  result in significant brand damage. Moreover, with deceased identity fraud also on the rise, where fraudsters steal the identifies of people that have passed away in order to set up credit cards etc., organisations have a duty of care to protect the legacy of their customers that have died. This means removing their data from databases as soon as possible. This is also a requirement under GDPR. It has never been cheaper, easier or quicker to identify and verify deceased customers using suppression products such as Mortascreen and so with the rising mortality rate data hygiene has never been more important.