Tips to win customers at any life stage

Improve response rates by reading our tips on customer preferences

Targeting life stages in advertising mail


Our latest research looks into the differing preferences of customers across seven different life stages - everyone from young people still living at home, to parents and retirees.

We found that segmenting customers by life stage provides a better prediction of attitudes and responses, than age alone.

The findings unearth some top tips advertisers can use to improve their response rates from customers – whatever their stage in life.

As we might expect, the older retired population is the highest responding group at 31.7%. But the findings also contradict the beliefs of some marketers that younger people – Millennials included – don’t respond to mail.

Key findings

  • People of all life stages read, engage with, share, appreciate and respond to mail – regardless of their digital usage.
  • How they engage with it – what they appreciate, what they don’t, and in particular the channels they use to respond to it – varies by life stage.



Young adults living at home with their parents – Fledglings – are the “selfie generation”, interested in fashion, friends and fun.

Tip: Don’t miss out on conversions from younger audiences – include mail in your marketing campaigns. 
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This group don’t receive much mail, so its novelty value means it has the potential to stand out from digital communications.

This group are the most positive about mail, placing a high value on printed communications, with 32% more likely to trust information in print than digital.




Sharers are adults living in shared accommodation.

They’re independent social butterflies who won't stay still. As young adults, Sharers are mobile meaning their details often do not appear on databases. However, this group are the most responsive to unaddressed mail, being twice as likely to provide their details to companies as a result of a door drop.

Tip: Door drops are an effective way to build relationships with young adults in shared accommodation.
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Door drops are often shared communally – with this group 24% more likely to show it to others or display it. Companies looking to build relationships with younger adults would benefit from the high shareability of door drops sent to communal accommodation.






Couples are adults living together as partners, with no children or other adults living with them.

They are finding their feet, building a future, and focusing on friends, but operate as a ‘unit’.

Messages about products for their home, social lives and local community resonates, with 26% taking action as a result of receiving relevant direct mail, and 13% trying a new product as a result of receiving it.

Tip: Couples appreciate messages which involve their home, community and social life.
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Many couples are beginning to set down roots and invest more in their homes and community. In one case, for example, a couple mentioned that leaflets had recently enticed them to buy a new home in a local development, buy flooring from a local company, and to trial a car valeting service.




Young Families

Young Families covers parents with children, who are at primary school age or younger.

With new children brings new responsibilities, and less ‘me time’. In an attempt to stay organised to keep up with the demanding lifestyle changes, it is not surprising that 62% of parents have a specific place in the home where they keep their valued letters or vouchers. From previous research, a favourite place for keeping mail is in the kitchen.

Young Families integrate digital technology and mail more than any other group, with mobile phones being their go-to device for communications. 

Tip: Young Families appreciate practical, time-saving products or services.
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They are enthusiastic about mail. They are not only the second most responsive life stage (29.6% bought or ordered in response to addressed mail), but also more positive in their attitudes towards and engagement with it generally.





Older Families

Older Families are parents with at least one child in secondary school.
With older children able to participate in family decisions, they are communal and collaborative.

They appreciate value and loyalty reward schemes, sharing offers with their children. 

Tip: Older Families are big users of vouchers, and other value-driven content which benefits the whole family.
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Older Families receive more mail than the younger groups and they know what to do with it. It’s part of their daily routine. And they like it too. They have positive associations with mail, including finding it welcome, useful, memorable and informative. They are also marginally more likely to find mail helps them find new products and services, and to appreciate being rewarded by their existing suppliers. For example, 59.4% say they like mail from companies that reward customer loyalty.


Empty Nesters

Empty Nesters no longer have children at home, and at least one of them is still working.

Some are living the dream, while others are planning for an uncertain future. They do not consider themselves as old, and may continue to care for elderly relatives or children who have flown the nest. 

Tip: Shorter form copy is not always preferred. Empty Nesters value longer form copy and will make the time to read it – if relevant.
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Almost two-thirds (64.2%) agree they “would feel less in control of their lives if they didn’t have printed copies of important documents”. Empty Nesters are much more likely to respond by phone or post than the norm, (14.5% and 10.5% respectively).





Older Retirees

Older Retirees are living on income from their pensions or investments.
They are experienced, discerning and unimpressed by over-claims.

This group is the most responsive to mail; 32% of them bought or ordered in response to an item of addressed mail in the last 12 months. For this group, print is a familiar and comfortable medium that many have been engaged with for decades. It’s part of the fabric of their lives. 

Tip: Provide multiple ways of responding as older people utilise digital response methods too.
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If messages are relevant, they will be saved and passed around, such as mail offers from local businesses. Older Retirees are comfortable with unaddressed mail as well: 37.4% agreed that it is a good way for local traders to let them know about their services and 53.5% saw it as a good way for a local authority to communicate.



Learn more about life stages

To better understand customer preferences – no matter what stage in life they’re at, download the full report. Be in the know to improve response rates from your campaigns.