Business & Society
facts & figures

People over 60: As the biggest group of voters, they are a powerful force in German elections

It’s Your Choice: The New Might of People Over 60

Never before were the over-60s as fit as they are now. People in retirement have become restless. Instead of relaxing, senior citizens are involved in social projects, run marathons, and continue to work even after they have retired. They will be a powerful force in Germany’s upcoming parliamentary elections. That’s because 36.1 percent of eligible voters will be over 60 when Germany goes to the polls in September 2017. People aged from 40 to 59 will account for 34.7 percent of the eligible voters, while only 29.3 percent will be between 18 and 39.

As with the Brexit vote, wthe over-60s will play a vital role, especially since the elderly are traditionally much more likely to vote than the young. After the parliamentary elections in 2013, the Federal Returning Officer said the over-70s, who used to vote less frequently than the population as a whole, now had a turnout of 74.8 percent, slightly above the average turnout. Does this mean that the political parties are more interested in pensions than in young people and the country’s future? Find out more in the interview on page 36.

Eligible voters by age In the Federal Republic of Germany, 1953–2017

Job portal for seniors

High Potentials

„Restless spirits“, is what Karl Wulftange, 72, calls his clients, retirees who still work or have restarted. Their numbers are steadily increasing—one in ten retired Germans now has a job, usually part-time. Some work because their pensions are too small, while others do so because they are bored. Since 2008, Wulftange has been running Die
Silberfüchse, a job portal in Duisburg which puts companies in touch with highly qualified people who want to contribute their expertise. His one-man business is not alone, as there are now several job exchanges for senior citizens in Germany, such as Erfahrung Deutschland and RentaRenter. However, these portals don’t specialize in managers. Meanwhile, large companies now have their own programs in order to retain high-potential retirees and their expertise. Wulftange isn’t concerned about the competition, because his focus is on small and medium-size enterprises and he knows that he will benefit from the changing demographics. “Many of these companies will be looking for new personnel in the years ahead, because they will be losing their top performers,” he says.

3 questions for

Elke Laubach

“A Bridge between Generations”

1

In 2014 Evonik launched the GenerationenPakt in order to improve human resources planning. What does it involve?

The Generationen-Pakt serves as a bridge between generations. The older employees retire as scheduled, following a lengthy preparation period during which
their successors are trained specifically for the positions that then become vacant.
In this way, good human resources planning ensures the effective transfer of knowledge.

2

How does this work in practice?

We provide employees with comprehensive information so that they can decide how they would like to enter retirement. The employer-promoted long-term account is a tool that enables employees to influence how soon they can leave work before their actual retirement. The GenerationenPakt is an innovative application of this long-term account, which enables the employer and the employee to jointly fund the latter’s departure from the company.

3

How well has the GenerationenPakt been received?

The response is very good, and that’s why it will be continued. At present, it
covers non-exempt employees born in 1962. More than half of these employees
have already received advice and must now decide whether to leave the company
in accordance with the aforementioned model. Another reason why the GenerationenPakt is accepted is that it was drawn up in close cooperation with the works council.

Elke Laubach

is a direct consultant at Evonik’s HR Services Germany.

1889

Introduction of statutory retirement insurance in Germany. This made the German Empire a pioneer with regard to social security. Denmark followed two years later and the UK in 1908. The USA did not introduce social security until 1935

Best agers are won over by emotions and facts

The new darlings

They are a growing group of prosperous, consumption-oriented people: Best agers are being eagerly targeted by the advertising industry. Unfortunately, they are also very resistant to commercials...

Advertisers refer to this target group as “best agers” or “master consumers” and use “seniors marketing” (an infelicitous term for the over-50s) to get them to buy certain products. Advertisers have had moderate success to date. The Consumer Barometer 2016, which surveyed 10,500 people throughout Europe, showed that 61 percent of mature customers like to receive advice from salespeople, but only 43 percent are influenced in their purchasing decisions by adverts.

This is one reason why the “Katharina das Grosse” cell phone from the Mannheim-based manufacturer Fitage flopped. Although the phone won much praise and many awards, it caused the specialist for senior citizen cell phones to go bankrupt. Perhaps the manufacturer shouldn’t have referred to its customers as “old.” That is the main mistake that companies make when targeting older people, according to experts like Alexander Wild, a consultant for seniors marketing. After all, who wants to be considered old and feeble?

There is no typical senior citizen, as 65-year-olds are not only retiring, but also traveling around the world in RVs or fathering children. “For advertisers, the biggest difference between 20-year-old surfers and mature water sports enthusiasts is that the latter need to be addressed differently,” says Wild. Instead of being shrill and loud, advertising for older customers has to be informative and authentic. Due to their age, such people are very experienced — and that also applies to how they respond to marketing. “To attract attention, advertising should also be emotionally appealing or humorous,” says Wild.

In this respect, Vodafone did everything right in Romania. A commercial in which two elderly ladies, the “Sunday grannies,” networked with hungry students via Facebook went viral worldwide. Now, two years later, the grannies have become YouTube stars, have their own cooking show, and are visited for lunch by local celebrities. Romanians over the age of 65 have increased their use of social media by 20 percent since the commercial was originally broadcast, while smartphones are now 78 percent more widespread.