Sunday, May 10, 2015

Google car to replace the Audi?

How many times have you heard about families trying to gently persuade or develop all kinds of Machiavellian plots to get an aged parent or grandparent's driving license handed in or forcibly removed?

While there are plenty of capable elderly drivers on the roads, there are also regular reports of someone's grand pop taking out a shop front, or inadvertantly treating some sidewalk dining tables as a drive-through. It would be funny if it wasn't so life threatening to innocent bystanders.

The issue is that, as people get older, their driving license becomes a symbol of independence and capacity for self-sufficiency.

It's easy to emphathise with this, particularly in a country like Australia where rickety public transport services make it a necessity in some places.

So, it is with great interest that, I have been watching the evolution of the next generation of cars. Tesla's rocket ship electric cars (I had a Scalectrix prototype as a kid, but thank God you don't need to slots cut in the road to make Tesla's version work!).

While Tesla's cars are already changing the auto industry, from manufacture right through to marketing and distribution, I think the biggest game changer will be the self-driving cars, like those Google types trialing on US roads right now.

The reason I think they'll create the biggest impact is that they have the potential to revolutionise the lives and capabilities of our ageing population.

If these cars can create the opportunity to 'uber' a driverless car to the front door to do the shopping run, or whip down to the local club, then they potentially have the capacity to deliver the independence, feedom and mobility so desired by the elderly, the disabled and others.

Their other social impacts may be a reduction in traffic accidents, cleaner air and a bunch of other community level benefits. But at the individual level, enabling individuals to extend their capabilities will be the most appreciated.

My long-held loyalty to Audi, misplaced though it may be in the eyes of some, may hang in the balance if my favourite automaker doesn't come to the party with a driverless carriage before I head off on my final journey.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Marketing retirement products to me? Get real!

As some may know, I'm in the business of marketing and communicating about superannuation - for those in foreign climes, a pension fund. In Australia, we run an interminable debate about what where sales end and financial advice begin, or is it vice versa? The upshot is that I spend most marketing days in some form of Clark Kent mode, unsure of when to leap into a phone box and emerge in my marketing Superman suit.

As I am looking increasingly like my target market with each passing year, it becomes apt to consider if some young Turk was going to market anything to do with retirement to me, how should they go about it?

This is the moment I become vulnerable and at risk of being encoded in some dude's data analytics package. As a target market, I look like this:
  • Within a decade of retirement;
  • Hate the whole idea of retirement;
  • Could in theory afford to retire now, although facing off with an ageing feline over a bowl of tuna later in life might still be on the cards;
  • Invest like a patron of Crown Casino;
  • Enjoy German cars;
  • Covet wines beyond my budget;
  • Like soft adventure holidays with hot showers and feather pillows at day's end;
  • Regularly retreat to my holiday home and go kayaking in the occasionally tame waters of Port Phillip Bay.
  • Spend a lot of time getting over musculo-skeletal issues due to taking on  ridiculously complex and major renovating/landscaping projects.

In other words, living beyond my means and physical capabilities is the norm, not just an aspiration. This has huge implications for the retirement marketer.

First it means don't tell me that I want to slow down, leave work, put my feet up or spend endless, blissful days on the beach with sand between my toes. I know it's all crap and will never happen to me. And don't therefore use images of same, or words talking about spending 'quality time' with family, because:

  1. My wife is, in fact, dreading my retirement even more than me; and
  2. My teenage daughter is not far off driving her own chariot and getting as far away as possible with her contemporaries.

Accordingly, my current major project is building a decent sized shed down the beach house. Yes, at a push big enough to accommodate a bed and satellite TV!

So, if you're going to seriously market retirement products to me, understand the reality.