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«Communicating with customers of retirement age by Sarah Jenkins, John Higton and Elizabeth Lane Department for Work and Pensions Research Report No ...»

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7 Conclusions and implications 7.1 Conclusions 7.1.1 Age shapes customers’ experiences and attitudes The research findings show that the age of customers affected their outlook on society, finance and health. From activities undertaken, to self-perception of health, outlook on financial stability and use of technology, the oldest group of customers showed significant differences in attitude and behaviour to those in younger age groups.

Older sections of the audience were more socially isolated. Survey participants in the 80 to 84 age group took part in a smaller range of activities and less frequently, than younger age groups. They were also less likely to drive a car. As ‘local’ services were defined by the length of time it took to reach them, those like the older age groups who were more reliant on public transport were more limited in the services they could reach. People from this age group were also most likely to state that their health was not as good as others their own age, and also more likely to have a long-term health condition that affected their mobility.

Perceptions about finance also changed with age. However, it is unclear whether this is defined by age itself, by the cultural outlook of a different generation or a mix of these factors with others.

The older age groups were positive about their incomes; they felt what they had was enough to live comfortably, and they were less likely to say they needed financial advice. Despite this, they were also the group most likely to live on lower incomes, to be on State benefits, and to agree that they needed these benefits in order to be able to live. This was partly governed by the aptly named Frugal Dependents Odyssey segment, who were more cautious with their finances and had a generally older profile than other segments. More than half of the participants in the 80 to 84 age group were part of this segment.

The qualitative work highlighted that people of retirement age were much more used to a cash rather than credit economy. This meant that their financial transactions took place physically rather than electronically or via debit or credit cards. A physical retail environment was really important to them, which helps explain why shops and banks were found to be extremely important local services.

Conversely, members of the younger group aged 60 to 69 were more likely to receive an income from a job, and to use financial institutions such as banks and building societies for advice. They were also more likely to ask for financial assistance, specifically from professional or commercial sources. Furthermore, the nature of the advice sought was very different from the older customers, concentrating on managing investments and debts rather than advice on benefits and Government help available.

Doctors’ surgeries were visited by proportionally more of the 80 to 84 age group than younger contingents, and this age group were more pessimistic than others about their health. This age group were also more likely to want a doctor or health professional to make decisions about health matters. The qualitative findings showed that younger and more affluent segments worried as much about mental health as they did physical health.

50 Conclusions and implications 7.1.2 Attitudes and perceptions are also correlated to affluence and health Compared to older participants, those who were younger and/or were members of more affluent segments such as the Prosperous Independents were more active. The ‘and/or’ is important; it is not possible to disentangle the effect of age from income without doing further statistical work such as multiple regression analysis.21 The more affluent were more likely to undertake activities such as physical exercise and seeing their friends more regularly and were markedly less likely to say they suffered from long-term illnesses or disabilities. The content and delivery of services that such customers need is therefore likely to be different.

Although most participants from less affluent segments said they were mostly employed throughout their working lives, they still said they were reliant on State benefits in order to live in retirement. The less affluent included members of the Frugal Dependents, State Reliant Couples and Urban Underprivileged segments. Worryingly, members of the latter segment, Urban Underprivileged were more likely to disagree that they knew ‘who to contact in order to find out about any Government benefits to which I am entitled’. Overall, three in ten of all participants disagreed with this statement which does show that some work is required to communicate effectively about benefit entitlement to a significant minority of the over 60 population. The qualitative work also found that such customers are not likely to be proactive when looking for information on Government services.

Wealth and perceptions of health were also linked: those from less affluent households were less likely to think of themselves as healthy in comparison to peers of the same age. They were also more likely to report having a long-term illness and making regular visits to the doctor. The Odyssey segmentation again proved effective at indicating who is more likely to perceive they are less healthy than others and this was a characteristic particularly prevalent among members of the Frugal Dependents segment.

7.1.3 Family play a crucial role in the lives of most of the over 60s Family played an important social role in acting as advisers on health and financial decisions. Family members are the most likely source of home help amongst those with health difficulties, and they are a key influence on information and understanding about government services. For many older people, family members represent an important channel for getting information, although it is important to note that trust in family is not universal. With respect to finance, some qualitative participants felt they did not want to worry their families about money and so did not discuss finance with them. In addition, not all older people have families, or live close enough to their families for them to see frequently.

Should families be used as a channel for advice, there is an important practical consideration:

contacting families of older people direct will be difficult as their address will be unknown to DWP or PDCS. This implies that the design of communications that use family to pass on information needs to be carefully considered.

Also known as key driver analysis. Note that undertaking this work would not necessarily help

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7.1.4 Income and access to services differed by gender Women were found to be less likely to drive a car than men and less likely to have incomes from a job or private investments and so were consequently more reliant on State benefits. Consequently, women’s reported incomes were less than those of men and their ability to travel to take part in activities is lower. These conclusions suggest that older women may be more likely to be isolated than men and that the tenor of communications to women, and the services that are offered, may need to be structured differently.

7.1.5 Take-up of new technology is stronger in younger participants Lastly, our research has shown that although there are opportunities available for conveying messages via modern forms of technology, the more tried and tested sources remain the most widely used and the most trusted. Customers were most familiar with established communication technologies such as the television, a landline telephone and newspapers, and less so overall with modern technologies such as the internet and mobile phones. These newer devices were used mostly by younger customers, emphasising that shifts are generational and will take some years before these become established sources of information for older people in general. Use of the internet was especially low amongst older customers, and they were the most likely to be hesitant to take up this technology in the future. This highlights that they would be unlikely to be in a position to receive information this way.

We also found that face-to-face contact was preferred by most participants. Not only were they more likely to trust this approach as a source of information on finance, health, and Government services, but they said they were unlikely to pass on personal information via the internet or text messaging. Whilst the internet especially is important as a source of information for younger age groups, it does appear that a mixed methodology including the more traditional communication media would be the best option to ensure all types of customers over 60 are catered for.

7.2 Implications Taking into consideration the findings from the research, and the ways in which DWP and PDCS want to be able to communicate with those of retirement age, we recommend that the following factors

are given consideration when developing a communication strategy:

• As isolation increases with age, PDCS and DWP are presented with fewer opportunities to directly contact those of retirement age through other services. Traditional, face-to-face services therefore become much more important as points of contact, particularly for those aged 80 and over. For all participants, and especially older ones, doctors’ surgeries and Post Offices were particularly important and frequently used services.

• The isolation faced by women as they age may be worse than that for men as they were less likely to drive and more likely to have a lower income, of which State benefits were a greater part.

This suggests that PDCS and DWP may need to consider how they tailor the content and channels of communication for women.

• Older and less affluent participants were more likely to rely on benefits in order to live whereas younger, more affluent participants enjoyed more diverse income streams. This implies that the content and delivery mechanisms for information about finances will differ depending on age and/or income.

• Wealth and perceived health were linked, although a causal relationship cannot be ascertained.

This suggests that the health messages designed for wealthy groups may need to differ from those for the less affluent.

52 Conclusions and implications • Family and friends play an important role in offering information and advice to older people.

However, while it may be useful to use family members to communicate important messages to the over 60s, these messages will need to be clear and concise as they will be liable to interpretation by an intermediary.

• Younger participants were more likely to use modern communication technologies. From that, it can be implied that the children and grandchildren of older people are even more likely to be online. Intermediary communications using modern technologies may, in some cases, be more effective than direct communication using the internet or mobile phones, especially for the very old.

Appendix – Technical documentation 53 Appendix Technical documentation A.1 Appendix tables: quantitative data Table A.1 Sample opt-out rates per Odyssey segment and gender

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A.2 Sample frame and quotas Figure A.2 shows the sample frame supplied by PDCS for the quantitative element of the research. It also shows the quotas within each Odyssey segment that were agreed with Ipsos MORI. Figure A.3 shows the achieved interviews within each segment.

A.3 Sample details Notional targets were set by Odyssey segment and gender and a sample drawn accordingly. The returned sample was broadly in line with the targets set with two exceptions, male respondents for the Frugal Dependents and Unclassified segments. The reason that achieved interviews were lower than the targets for these groups was due to a combination of relatively high number of refusals, and some issues with data quality, notably incorrect numbers supplied with the sample.

Data was weighted accordingly to correct for these differences.

Table A.2 Target interviews

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A.4 Statistical reliability The respondents who took part in this survey are only a sample of the total ‘universe’ of those who could have taken part, so we cannot be certain that the figures obtained are exactly those we would have if everybody had responded (the ‘true’ values). We can, however, predict the variation between the sample results and the ‘true’ values from knowledge of the size of the samples on which the results are based and the number of times a particular answer is given. The confidence with which we can make this prediction is usually chosen to be 95 per cent – that is, the chances are 95 in 100 that the ‘true’ value will fall within a specified range. Table A.4 illustrates the predicted ranges for different sample sizes and percentage results at the 95 per cent confidence interval, assuming the universe to be infinite.

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It should, though, be stated that these figures assume a simple, random sample with no design effect. For example, with a sample size of 1,979 where 30 per cent give a particular answer, the chances are, 19 in 20 times that the ‘true’ value (which would have been obtained if the whole universe had been interviewed) will fall within the range of +2 percentage points from the survey result (i.e. between 28 per cent and 32 per cent).

When results are compared between separate groups within a sample, different results may be obtained. The difference may be ‘real’, or it may occur by chance (because not everyone in the universe has been interviewed). To test if the difference is a real one, i.e. if it is ‘statistically significant’, we again have to know the size of the samples, the percentage giving a certain Appendix – Technical documentation 55 answer and the degree of confidence chosen. If we assume a 95 per cent confidence interval, the differences between the results of two separate groups must be greater than the values given in Table A.5.

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A.5 Demographic profile of respondents Figures A.1 illustrate the demographic profile of the respondents who were interviewed for the quantitative element of this research.

Figure A.1 Demographic profile of respondents: Age, gender, disability status

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Figure A.3 Level of income per week Taking all of your income and any benefits you receive into account, roughly how much do you have to live on each week?

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Fieldwork dates: 1 to 26 March 2010.

Source: Ipsos MORI.

Base: All aged 60 to 84 (1,979).

A.5.1 Adjustments to the sample frame due to a rebasing of the data As can be seen from Table A.6, around nine per cent of those held on PDCS database are aged 85 or more. Of the 2,002 people taking part in the survey, less than one per cent was part of this age group. It was therefore agreed to adjust the survey responses for analysis to take into account this low response because of the effect weighting such a small number of older participants would have on the overall data. Rather than the survey findings being for all over 60s, the analysis was therefore carried out on all those over retirement age and under the age of 85. The weights applied to the data by age are therefore shown in Table A.7.

60 Appendix – Technical documentation Table A.6 Data from PDCS

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The research included both qualitative and quantitative elements. The qualitative research looked at the attitudes and perceptions of customers towards their social and financial lifestyles, as well as their health and well-being. The quantitative research built upon these themes from the perspective of communicating with those of retirement age.

This report uses the findings from both elements of this research to help enhance the PDCS customer segmentation model which will inform the development of more efficient and effective communications that reflect the attitudes and needs of PDCS customers over retirement age.

If you would like to know more about DWP research, please contact:

Paul Noakes, Commercial Support and Knowledge Management Team, Work and Welfare Central Analysis Division, 3rd Floor, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NA.


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