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Don't Ignore 'Grey Pound', Experts Warn

Article date: Thu, 23 Feb 2012 16:06 GMT

Steve Downes

Businesses are too hung up on mobile marketing for young people and are missing out on the most lucrative market of silver surfers with disposable cash to spend.

Discussing the future of mobile commerce, Steve Downes, managing director of Juice Digital - the digital agency division of Manchester-based Tangerine PR - highlighted the growing trend for firms to launch a mobile strategy with only a young, tech-savvy consumer in mind.

He said: "If we are having a commercial discussion about mobile and people making money using mobile, the simple fact is, a huge proportion of the nation's wealth is held by people over 55. It will be quite a long time before the 15 and 16 year-olds become economically interesting to a lot of businesses.

"I absolutely agree that young people should be thought about in the bigger picture because they will convert into the big spenders but I don't know how long it will take for them to become a serious chunk of the market."

Jonathan Bowers, communications director for Manchester hosting firm UKFast, said: "There is a growing focus on the grey pound due to the popularity of the iPad which has opened the tablet market up to the more senior spender.

"The travel industry for one has realised that the collaborative experience of the tablet is excellent for decision making on holidays, and more businesses need to direct their strategy in this way towards the consumers with money to spend."

Rob Smith, digital director at Cheshire-based integrated agency Blueleaf, identified a tendency for firms to launch mobile commerce strategies without fully understanding who they should be targeting.

Smith said: "Everyone says things like location-based technology and SoLoMo [Social Local Mobile Search] are the most important things at the moment. It is an acronym that corporates will jump on without knowing what they mean.

"A lot of websites that I visit prompt me to input my location and there is no feasible reason why my location would be helpful. Companies are just turning these things on because they think it's the current thing to do. And a lot of businesses haven't bothered to analyse the data that they've already got."

The panel of mobile commerce experts suggested bosses consider the whole spectrum of mobile marketing techniques to launch an effective mobile strategy.

Ronnie Brown, managing partner at marketing agency Quirk London said: "Reaching 65 year-olds by text message is great but by a mobile app, it's probably not.

"The mobile is a device in everyone's pocket but people use it in different ways. Open rates on SMS are four or five times higher than on email so in terms of getting a message to people, SMS is very effective but it's considered a dirty word by a lot of people these days."

The panellists emphasised the heightened scepticism amongst 'silver surfers' that can affect their willingness to spend online.

Lee Johnson, IS IT and Facilities director at mobile software firm Myriad said: "Older people are naturally more sceptical about buying on their phones. We understand the risks that exist and we understand the value of the data we're sharing. Kids don't understand that."

Brown added: "I think people's security fears will fade - people used to have the same concerns about desktops. Technologically, it's exactly the same transaction on a mobile device."

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