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Are we designing with our grandparents in mind?

Discover simple steps on how to make your businesses promotional approach more inclusive to an older demographic.

A few months back, while visiting my grandma, she expressed her delight and frustration when it came to ordering pizza from Pizza Hut.

Delighted that they had an exceptional deal on large sized pizzas (she's a huge fan of their Hawaiian), but frustrated that she couldn't find the phone number on the mailer that had been sent to her. Especially when it read 'call or order online' to access the deal.

Being a millennial who grew up with technology, I didn't fully comprehend her frustration at first; they were promoting their online APP, which is easy to access, plus you can 'just Google-It' to find the phone number. That's when it dawned on me; it's only easy IF you are tech literate.

Weeks later a parallel issue came into my sight thanks to a Global News Consumer Matters segment called 'Seniors Feeling Left Behind by App-Only Shopping'.

Reporter Anne Drewa's 3 minute segment (which we encourage you to watch) features an 86 year-old women, and her friend, who enjoys going to McDonalds and getting their $1 ice cream treat. However, due to McDonalds recent shift in marketing, they've made that deal only accessible via their online app, making the in-store price nearly double.

As Lilian, the senior interviewed, expressed "There discriminating against elderly. We've helped pioneer this country to make it easier and better for the young people and they're getting all the privileges and were being cut-off."

While some might see it as only a $0.83 difference in price, there is a much broader issue at hand in which a BC Seniors Advocate voiced — poverty, isolation and, ultimately, feeling left behind in multiple things due to the shift in the digital world.

As her friend, Ingrid, said best "It should be the same for everybody."

Taking the investigation a bit further, Andrea reached out to 2 other fast food chains to understand how their deals work. Both Tim Hortons and A&W appear to come from a more inclusive approach.

Tim Hortons stated "...a smartphone is not required to participate in collecting or redeeming Tims Rewards points or receiving valuable offers. Guests can still use a physical Tims Rewards card to collect points on eligible purchases."

"We regularly introduce new limited time recipes, feature price promotions in restaurants, on our mobile ordering app, and through third party delivery, and offer mailed and digital coupons." A&W statement read.

Prior to the segment ending, Lilian lovingly made it clear why she brought this topic to the forefront; "[I'm] not after gifts. I'm not after money. I just want equality; thats what I want."

She's right — no one should be penalized for not having access to fancy smartphones or pricey technology. After all, technological advancements made for society are meant to be helpful, make our lives easier by automation, and aide in a persons well-being; not cut them off.

This inspired us to have a conversation and ask the question 'how can we as designers, marketers, and companies do better at including individuals who may not have means or access to technology — make things more inclusive?'

After some brainstorming, we've come up with 3 beginning steps towards a more inclusive promotional approach that any sized business can utilize.


This might sound obvious, but it tends to be overlooked. It's important to actively listen to the community around you and take note of what they are expressing; they are your best market research. You can gain a new ideas, such as products or services, based on problems they've expressed, as well as even correct frustrations to boost customer service and loyalty.

Through active listening you are also showing appreciation and respect for your community, which will also help boost your brands reputation in a positive light; so long as you aren't tone deaf to what is being said.

What this might look like:

Just before your interaction with the customer is complete, leave a space of time at the end to ask for their honest feedback. Listen, take note and see if there are any actionable steps that can be taken to improve upon based on their comments.


The best ideas come from gaining a fresh perspective based on someone else's valuable experiences. Allowing yourself the opportunity to reach out to your demographic and have a collaborative conversation will lead to a more evolved execution on how to effectively engage with your ideal persona.

An open dialogue that is geared towards listening and resolving a persona's conflict, leads to effectively inclusive solutions.

What this might look like:

Prior to launching a new service, connect with a small diverse group of your ideal personas and gain their insights on it. Like the above; listen, take note and see if there are any actionable steps that can be taken to improve the service based on their comments. You'd be amazed on what you can learn from a fresh set of eyes.

Back to Basics

We'll be the first to admit it, we find it funny when someone still lists their fax number on a business card, email signature or website. But truth is, some people still only have access to that technology and are comfortable with it.

We aren't saying that you should consider adding a fax line to your business, but what we are saying is make sure to think about the basic ways we use to communicate, reach and connect with others and see if that can be added to your process.

What this might look like:

Prior to printing and sending thousands of mailers, ask a diverse range of people if they feel anything is missing that might prevent customers from connecting with your business. After-all, sometimes leaving a little extra space for a phone number on your pamphlet might lead to the sale of multiple large Hawaiian pizza's.

The above are only a small handful of ways to think about how we can be more self-aware of including others to partake in our businesses. We encourage everyone to continue the conversation about inclusivity and, when possible, transform talking about it into actionable steps.

Foster an inclusive brand experience.

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