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Review: The Forgotten Middle? Exploring financial services marketing roundtable discussion

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Senior industry leaders from across the financial services sector came together for a discussion hosted by creative-led marketing communications agency Jam on whether the financial services industry has forgotten a vital, older demographic.

Hosted at Sync Deansgate in Manchester on November 24th, the morning discussion was chaired by Prolific North editor David Prior where attendees discussed whether adults aged between 40 and 60 may be overlooked by financial services brands as well as the opportunities.

Attendees: 

  • Jaime Gee, co-owner and Managing Director, Jam
  • Anna Asamoah, Account Director, Jam
  • Katie Allsopp, Communications Strategy Lead, Natwest Group
  • Maia Olesen, Client Director, Verlingue
  • Katie Clinton, Partner, KPMG
  • Kelly Johnstone, Head of Content, Staysure Group
  • Sally Hannigan, Communications Manager, Chetwood Financial
  • David Wall, Head of International PR & Communications, Raisin UK
  • Lizzie Lavan, Marketing Manager, Raisin UK

Following a welcome from David Prior (Prolific North), Jamie Gee (Jam) provided an overview of the work Jam does with its specialism in the financial services sector.

From a personal observation as a woman in her 40s, Gee (Jam) mentioned marketing seems more targeted either towards millennials or the older generations, which leads to those between the ages of 40 – 60 often feeling “a bit forgotten in the middle”.

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Jamie Gee, Jam
Jamie Gee, Jam


After short introductions, Prior asked attendees what this means to them and how each company looks at age demographics. Kelly Johnstone (Staysure Group) said the so-called “forgotten middle” is really important because most of the group’s brands target that demographic through its specialism in travel insurance.

For Maya Olesen (Verlingue), there tends to be a need to speak to different age groups in a “very different way”. Younger age groups are able to adapt to change more, particularly through digital transformation, which may leave other age groups behind.

Leading on communication strategy both internally and externally, Katie Allsopp (Natwest Group) said the banking group is moving away from demographics and focusing on behaviours and life stages as a way to tailor communications and target those groups instead.

When building products or campaigns, Sally Hannigan (Chetwood Financial) pointed out how the digital bank does this based on needs and behaviours, rather than focusing on age. “Age is too narrow and you can make too many assumptions”.

David Wall (Raisin UK) said the savings platform also doesn’t follow age demographics and looks instead at “behaviours, search trends and the emotional connection to money”. 

At KPMG, Katie Clinton said it’s a really important topic to delve into particularly with customer strategy, assessing how customers transact, what technology they plan to use and how to make it accessible for them. 

Prior then asked whether attendees would agree there is a problem in the financial services industry with forgetting those in the mature adult bracket and if it is an issue being addressed. 

“There’s definitely a gap,” said Wall (Raisin UK). With an increasingly rocky financial market, particularly with the cost of living crisis, the marketing strategy at Raisin UK is to simplify “a lot of the jargon that goes around financial services” to make it clearer for consumers. 

Age demographics, accessibility and acceleration of digitalisation

Priorities are different for various age demographics, speaking to a 24-year-old creative in advertising on pension planning is vastly different to someone in an older demographic. “It’s how you break down those barriers to reach those different people in a difficult time. At the moment, it’s quite challenging,” said Olesen (Verlingue).

It’s not just about accessibility but it’s about financial education of the younger market too, explained Clinton (KPMG). It’s a “slightly different challenge” for the older demographic, they want to engage in a more traditional way and there is still a lot more work to do with the customer journey thanks to digitalisation.


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It might be a missed opportunity for financial brands as certain products may be marketed more towards the younger generation when it comes to buying a house or going to university, for instance, suggested Allsopp (Natwest).

Loyalty is a key differentiating factor between various demographic groups too, attendees agreed. Those in the older demographic tend to stick with brands whereas younger generations have a tendency to “switch and change” especially when new or seemingly innovative products come to market. 

“We’ve got a real gap between the real grey market, the younger generation, and in this core demographic,” said Wall (Raisin), particularly with the acceleration in digital and priorities with different financial products.

There has been a shift towards digital banking and products, Anna Asamoah (Jam) explained, adding that her son has a GoHenry account as he enjoys the “gamification” element.

For Johnstone (Staysure Group), as the demographic shifts and gets wider, a financial brand cannot assume that because someone is in their 70s that they don’t want to chat or use products online. 

Following the pandemic, attendees agreed it was easier to overcome a key challenge with the shift to digital as older generations “just got used to it and realised they can go online and do things themselves”.

At Raisin, Wall said when it comes to important money issues such as pensions, older generations still prioritise speaking to someone so this still remains a “huge priority” as part of the brand experience.  

Assumptions with older generations

There are still many customers who expect to have a connection with someone on the phone, added Olesen (Verlingue). The 40 to 60 age demographic may feel overlooked as society and businesses assume “they know what they’re doing, we don’t need to think about them”.

“The 40 to 60 bracket, really we just sort of sit there in a bit of a limbo. We’re already educated. We’re not interesting yet from that perspective. So therefore, we’re just left in the middle.”


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A key issue here is about assumptions with this age demographic. “We do make assumptions about people based on their age and they’re not necessarily correct,” explained Hannigan (Chetwood Financial), adding that brands should look at behaviours rather than stereotypes.

From a PR and communications perspective, Wall (Raisin) agreed, adding that the platform instead tackles issues or trends through content whether it’s on the risk of redundancies, holidays or savings. “We put content at the heart of our strategy, because it just removes the age demographic completely.”

To tackle assumptions, Allsopp (Natwest) said research is key and how the bank has a big research department. Focusing on insights and behaviours of certain demographics such as looking at search trends, vox pops or doing focus groups can be powerful tools to inform strategy.

What is the impact of gender in this and is it mature women being forgotten, asked David Prior. Wall (Raisin) said the service has removed gender profiles altogether, with Hannigan (Chetwood Financial) agreeing that her company also has a gender-neutral approach. 

Both agreed on maintaining a gender split in any research carried out as it’s important to verify the behaviours of individuals to avoid assumptions.

But are more women more engaged in marketing of financial service products and is there a missed opportunity here too? For Allsopp (Natwest), the bank does a lot of work around female entrepreneurs and enterprises as the number of women who start businesses or receive funding is often low, which offers opportunities to tap into this market. 

Why should financial services brands focus more on the 40 – 60 demographic?

Prior asked within the 40 – 60 age bracket, how and why should brands focus on this group. Allsopp (Natwest) said this demographic influences the financial decisions of everyone else in the family. Whether it’s a campaign on fraud or university for instance, it would be focused on parents which “filters down” to the wider family.

To be able to do this and reach the decision-makers, it is all about research, finding out what channels they use and the content they want. “You reach them through the channels that 40-60 year olds are using, knowing that your ultimate objective is to influence young people.”


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Whether it’s tabloids or broadsheets, media trust still remains a driving force for this demographic particularly when it comes to financial advice. 

The narrative any brand has is very important, added Gee (Jam), regardless of the age group being targeted. Consistency of your message and remaining true to brand values can resonate with this demographic that may be more loyal. 

Many customers still don’t switch, explained Allsopp (Natwest), as often many of the big financial brands don’t have much to differentiate between them so it remains a big challenge for this demographic. 

But on loyalty, Johnstone (Staysure Group) said following the last few years, particularly in the travel insurance industry, brands cannot assume loyalty anymore. The more affluent, older demographic are more likely to take out travel insurance whereas the younger are “less risk averse” and don’t think anything could go wrong on holiday.

For Olesen (Verlingue), researching where this demographic is remains important. More customers are going online, are broadsheets as important as they used to be? There is also a rise in influencer marketing; are they educated enough to give financial advice? 

“That’s exactly why we don’t do traditional offline marketing,” agreed Hannigan (Chetwood Financial). Finding out where the target audience is looking for a particular product to suit their needs is where the company has its focus on. 

Staying relevant in the current market and broadening the topics you do talk about as a brand are opportunities, explained Wall (Raisin). With regular slots on BBC London on a Monday morning where Raisin’s co-founder talks on relevant topics on consumer affairs, it helps to engage in a “meaningful way”. 

For Lizzie Lavan (Raisin) it’s all about tying any brand message back into why should they care? And tailoring any campaigns or messaging around this. 

Imagery around what a customer in the 40 to 60 age bracket is important too, explained Gee (Jamie). “I think that’s probably why this generation or this group is misrepresented. There’s physically no visual representation out there.”

Moving away from stereotypes within stock imagery, for instance, Wall (Raisin) said the company has moved towards using illustrations and its social media is all centred around infographics and education instead. 

Echoing this, Allsopp (Natwest) said stock imagery can often reinforce stereotypes, particularly with female business owners and the challenge is often being able to ensure everyone is visually represented. Gee (Jam) agreed, adding that there is a big challenge in marketing with being able to represent those in similar age brackets when they’re so different. 

Wrapping up the discussion, although there was no definitive answer about how to tap into and represent this age demographic, attendees agreed financial brands shouldn’t focus on age through marketing but instead, about the attitudes and desires of those customers. 




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