“ARCO Conference – Marketing”

This is my third report from the ARCO conference – July 2016. (See my earlier blogs “ARCO Conference Demographics” and “ARCO Conference Dementia” in the archive dated July 2016.)


This was an extremely interesting talk by Doctor Margaret Wylde, the Founder and CEO of Promatura Group – a marketing consultancy that specialises in retirement communities.   Her presentation focused on the large retirement communities that have developed in the USA over the last 25 years and her insights were drawn from the lessons of a mature market in the USA.

The next two slides say it all about some of the retirement communities in the USA.  The first slide is a retirement community developed by the Del Webb Corporation in 1960 in Sun City, Phoenix, Arizona.   It shows a host of individual houses built around a central hub of facilities, all designed for older people.

Sun City

However, that only shows half the story.  The slide below gives you the even bigger picture. Sun City is made up of a host of retirement communities, to the point where this particular community now houses 38,000 older people and covers an area of 37 square kilometres.

Sun City 2

The photograph looks lovely doesn’t it.  It makes a nice pattern from the air!  But I’m not sure I’d like to live there.  Talk about ghettos for the elderly, this must be the ultimate in ageing communities.   What’s more, the Del Webb Corporation has gone on to build many similar, albeit slightly smaller communities, in many other parts of the USA.   They have also been emulated by many other retirement community developers.

What it does illustrate is the enormous desire of many older people in America to cash in some of their wealth, downsize and move away from the big cities and into sunnier climes. It’s like the move many older people made in the UK, to relocate to places like Torquay and Brighton or for the more adventurous, to retire to the Costa Del Sol or the Costa Brava in Spain.

Everything in America is bigger and land is a heck of a lot cheaper.   I’m not sure we could learn too much from this experience other than what not to do.   That’s not to say that we shouldn’t build retirement communities in the UK, but they certainly are unlikely to ever reach the American scale.

Some of the key marketing messages, which are relevant however, are:-

  • Firstly, that it is the quality of lifestyle in the retirement community that creates customer satisfaction, not just the properties themselves;
  • Secondly, the premium on property purchase prices can be up to 30%;
  • Thirdly, don’t push service charges too high or risk losing 20% of the market;
  • Finally, there is a great desire for a new life in retirement, providing the options closely reflect the customers needs, which requires sophisticated market analysis.

More to follow in my next blogs.




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3 Responses to “ARCO Conference – Marketing”

    I am unsure how to respond to this particular ‘BLOG; it has many messages contained within it! And yet it make me personally feel very uneasy.
    Comments. For!
    1 positive thinking to a vexing question
    2 It is the USA, and Uncle Sam, doe’s things bigger and maybe better?
    Comments. Against!
    3 Think hard of what one wishes for?
    4 I am in the UK- does this design/concept suit me?
    5 What of the future in the UK?- A ministry of old age
    6 What are my beliefs and concepts, for you delectation, as Mr Sachs might say! From the Good old Days on BBV TV 4.
    It is an American dream for American People.
    AS a European Nation of Nations, does Spain, Portugal, and maybe Italy wish to import our elderly, if so at what costs to them and the tax regimes of all the European Nations ( Now we are ‘BRITEX), or is it all down to personal wealth, regardless of politics and family, and social values.
    a/ These American complexes covering the land and population, make me afraid of growing old- My comments on this subject are in an earlier blog
    Ref:-I cannot remember; It followed a holiday by John to his old friends in the USA, and a later Blog’ by Phil Hume. My age and mind are collapsing around me? However I still wish to make sense in this Blog; May be my past comments can be traced, concerning retirement villages/complexes in the USA?
    b/ What I find is missing is how the support services, managed and run by a municipality (Council) is managed, engaging a youthful workforce, for transport, sanitation, health so forth etc.
    c/ What is a community within my concepts? I do not believe in one sole group (class-creed- colour-age group- religion-language) isolating themselves from a nation, or within a nation? We should all within reason rub together cheek by jowl.
    d/ where is the co-evasiveness of a socially integrated, working, retired, children-family groups, within this societal groups of Americans? What on a more thoughtful day do they postulate about? The Future (with or out with the groups mentioned)? Where ‘Boot Hill’ is the crematoria and the funeral arranger’s to undertake the final farewell, or does one just fade away? Is this society of over 55+’s a walking mausoleum, as in the film! ‘The green Mile’ dead men walking?
    Where is that inspiration and get up and go to see the nation face the future and unknown, discussed and revitalised in the confidence of the younger generations, which includes the children of tomorrow.
    One cannot ‘pull up the ladder jack’ I am all right! We all too some extent need each other, and to relate socially to one and other, to some degree.
    e/ Monetarily I agree one needs a degree of wealth, and financial backing: What one as a society has too ask is this provided independently, or as a social group, through some affiliations of politics, charities, or other well-meaning bodies.
    It will cost however as a nation can us Brits afford such ideals in life, when we retire, and where oh where are the younger population to help sustain such dreams, or altruistic motives? Are we all a selfish lot of Bastards?
    Think of ‘Britex’ Europe and the immigration, or free movement of persons across national boundaries: do we build these old peoples ghettos in other nation’s backyards, either within Europe or out with? In fact if we are all independent and socially aware, and financially well off, do we need all these concepts of retirement villages for the over 55+’s. Can we say, ‘to hell with our neighbour’ whether a nation or resident, and live alone in this world.
    There is as John mentions in his blog a desire for new life in retirement, but be careful of what one wishes for? It is not a simple solution for all peoples of all nations, and be wary of a political system that milks or adjusts the democratic view point in society? Can we all when we are the majority of the voting public suffering or at least diagnosed with suffering Dementia/Alzheimer’s be legally stripped naked of our vote by a doctor’s note? What is the price of sanity or should I say insanity?
    These American Complex’s how do they deal with the moral dilemma of the democratic vote, and the town/city councillors who administer their democratic needs and welfare as an aging society, or is ‘Cash KING?’ and the way in which one joins a retirement complex in America lead by money, and mortgages, and money back schemes, with inputted wills and liens by developers, and councils on how wealth of any individual is donated, spent, split, divided after death. Is it all the ‘Green Eyed Dollar’?
    Answers on a postcard please.

  2. Well , well said little Knell, dropped her knickers and so she fell!
    Reflections, thoughts of Chairman Mao for today, and Privacy, or the Privy if you prefer.
    One walked to the bottom of the garden or to the corner of the back yard, lifted the latch, sat on the pot, and communicated between God and ones self. One then took the paper from the hook (Daily Herald, times, news of the world, telegraph, or the daily chronicle, read yesterdays snippet of news, wiped ones rear end, and put a handful of earth or ashes, on the deliverance-Pulled up ones draws, and re entered the real world? All in the privacy of the privy! Great.
    I am enjoying my golden wedding anniversary weekend! So far so good! But alas folks I had some picci’s taken by a professional photographer at a holiday resort, of me, Molly, and the greater family! Also good: However the photography business, while the photographer was real, as was the studio, and my gathered family.-The actual photographic business is solely web based, and remote?
    There is a telephone contact, great when used it is an automatic voice box, with advice?
    1/ Please go on the web site and report/contact us, or ,
    2/ Please use the telephone number 08 or 03 number, which I am on and the message is we are busy, all lines are engaged, leave your phone number/message and we will get back to you? I am still waiting on my landline!
    These two options are driving me mad:
    A/ The web site when one is on it asks for all ones details name/rank/number/ and then email address and password, followed by UPS server and ones mobile number + More (My memory deceives me), all on a friendly windows wizard.
    b/ If one crashes out of the wizard through frustration or wrong input of information, thankfully there is a postal address- This I understand!!!
    I now await the outcome.
    All I wished to do was to talk, communicate with a fellow human, and trade?
    Now to my thoughts on privacy???
    All the above except the ‘Privy’ require me to communicate with excessive personal details, and at 73 years old, I find banking, finance exchange of information, in general is mostly web based these days! I wonder what the DATA Protection act is for? and to whom it relates?
    Web based businesses, require/demand all this input of information, (Thankfully the landline communication is treated as a no go novelty, and the businesses will not respond to this) : Howevert the email, mobile telephone addresses numbers once given are open and bombarded with cold calling sales pitches from businesses, from various operatives contacts with whom I have no knowledge, and no interest, and I reject the idea of all this cold calling is good for everyone.
    On these sites from cold callers if one opens one there are agreements to cookies and other such electronic invasions. This is a ‘Hackers’ Charter, and while the responsibility is mine for my own protection of privacy, I wonder where we are going as a society?
    The web based search engines based on Google/Microsoft/yahoo, and many others say, the data is protected and it is free form surveillance from Government sources, foreign, or national, or international, I doubt the phraseology used and the actual information exchanged between these giants of the electronic world?
    There is the human rights law, but this appears such a stranger to me? We are all using the web, divulging our own personal details and somewhere someone is controlling our actions, and to some extent reactions?
    We have gone beyond nations and nation, and the next WW3 may be a cyber war, in economics or information’s of a personal nature I.E. Blackmail of nations and individuals to tow the line, in either legitimate or illegal actions.
    Where do we go or I go as a BRIT I have no idea, while I vote from the British Parliament!, I question its effect internationally-maybe? However these web based cyber transactions and search engines are based in a cyber space which has no nationalistic leaning, so as to its politics I have no idea, with whom I am entrusting my information too? as to the world I know off today- Western Powers/eastern Bloc/Asiatic Bloc/ or a Jihadist/ South American or African power house or a plain terrorist Group or aunty sat in my parlour drinking tea?
    I just wonder if St Peter is waiting on the web???

    • john graham says:

      Not quite sure what this has to do with marketing retirement communities?
      However, it is a very thought provoking reflection on where this new global world of the Internet is leading us and how far behind it may leave all those who can’t keep up, especially the older generation.
      It is certainly a long way from the privacy of the privy to the open tell everything world of the twitter net.

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