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Geezer Gold

Wait till you see what came in the mail for you today," my husband gloated recently.

Wait till you see what came in the mail for you today," my husband gloated recently. To say that my emotions were mixed when I discovered the package in question was an introductory membership application package from AARP is an understatement.

To distract myself from visions of imminent early-bird dinners, I contemplated the marketing prowess of AARP. How did they find me? This clearly was a targeted mailing (I'm closer to 50 than to 30), and obviously the organization had tapped into some kind of database of late-40-somethings. This data could have come from stores or catalogs where I've done business, theater series to which I've subscribed, magazines I receive, my college alumni list or even one of my financial services providers.

I wondered less about privacy issues than about the fact that I rarely receive age- or lifestyle-specific targeted promotions from those same financial services providers. Not that I'm dying to be flooded with sales pitches, but the tools and capabilities to gather and consolidate this kind of information are readily available (see related article, page 24). And with the competitive lines continuing to blur in the financial services world, why would any insurance company or bank want to let an association of geezers gain a marketing advantage?

My relative isolation may not last for long, as insurers are starting to recognize the tremendous opportunities to create and market products for soon-to-be-retiring Baby Boomers. Don't worry, I'm nowhere near retirement. But for some reason, lately I've been feeling a strong urge to watch "Golden Girls" reruns.

Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio

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