Jan 04, 2016

Skipton - Retirement DNA


Study type: Focus Group and Media Testing Study

Partner details: Skipton Insurance and Jaywing

Phase 1 – Focus Group: 29th June – 30th July 2014

Phase 2 – Persona Videos: 23rd August 2014

Phase 3 – PR Day 3rd November 2014

Biometrics:GSR and Valence


As people approach retirement, what are their dreams and aspirations for the future? Do they plan to fit the model that the media portrays for a retiree or do they want to branch out?


Skipton, the UK's fourth largest building society and a client of Jaywing, was keen to gain a true understanding of people's retirement wishes, in order to help them realise their goals, in line with its new Retirement Service.

Sensum was brought on board with our understanding of emotions to delve into this over a 2-stage process.


Firstly, they wanted to ask people approaching retirement what their thoughts or plans were around it.

This involved 2 focus groups of selected respondents wearing a GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) sensor. This measured the microscopic sweat level changes in their hands, which are related to the Autonomic Nervous System. This contains all our emotional responses: excitement, fear, boredom, calm, interest, anger etc.

After the discussion, each group watched a video showreel of typical 'Retirement' activities (gardening, family, visiting a loved one in hospital, relaxing). We measured their non-conscious engagement via the GSR sensor, and their conscious response via the valence slider depicting their positivity or negativity. Combining both of these responses, we were able to interpret whether the video was positively or negatively engaging.


What became clear from our findings was the rejection of the traditional views of retirement, such as keywords; 'the end of a chapter' and 'golden years'. We also found that pre-retirees are bored by the traditional 'pipe and slippers' images of life beyond work. They are in-fact excited with what the next chapter in life holds for them, whether that be travelling or continuing on with part-time work.

With the showreel video, we saw a lack of reaction from the idea of a laid back retirement, such as imagery of a cosy pub or a night at the dog races.

A man lying in what appears to be a hospital bed has a negative effect on our respondents.

The results backed up the responses from the focus groups, which allowed five distinct personas to be identified : Activity Seeker, Adventurer, Comfort Seeker, Knowledge Seeker, and Worker.

Activity Seeker – Characterised by people valuing physical activity and fitness now and into their retirement. Those who are strongly active seeking display a desire to take part in pursuits and activities which are exercise based and beneficial for their health in retirement such as walking, yoga, swimming and dancing.

Adventurer – Risk taking and the continuing need for thrills are key to this persona. Those who are strongly adventure seeking display a particular desire to take part in activities that have an acceptable level of risk and excitement in retirement such as sky diving, water sports, climbing and adventure holidays.

Comfort Seeker – the appreciation of home comforts and the simpler things in life are what de ne this persona. Those who are strongly comfort seeking see their retirement playing out with a slower pace, prioritising the family and the home and garden.

Knowledge Seeker – a desire for continual learning and enrichment from others and the environment is core to knowledge seekers. Those who are strongly knowledge seeking are likely to engage in activities that are informally and formally enriching, such as the pursuit of new hobbies, increased time with peers and acquiring new skills.

Worker – for work seekers, work is a passion and vocation, not a necessary evil, and there is therefore little appetite to stop working. Those who are strongly work seeking are more likely to want to either never stop working or take part in work replacing activities such as volunteering and charity work.


With the results from Phase 1, 5 persona videos were produced to match the qualities of each. The purpose of this was to identify the baseline response to each video. 30 London-based respondents were recruited (equal males and females) who were considered as pre-retirees. With the overall results, these could be used in future advertising campaigns with Skiptons Retirement Service.

They answered some questions around their aspirations for the future and watched all 5 videos in a random sequence to correlate their answers with the video that suited their persona.

Each respondent was asked to use a valence slider to depict if the imagery associated with the retirement they wanted.


We saw a repeat response in Phase 2 where the majority of respondents did not embrace the typical idea of retirement. While the appeal of family time is important, it is not a time for slowing down with high responses to the Adventure persona.

However, not one person confirms to just one persona. Each person taking part had a unique 'Retirement DNA' profile, displaying various areas of dominance for each persona type. This showed us that no two retirees are the same.

Based on these findings Skipton ran a PR event in London to allow people to measure their responses to the persona videos, and compare them with the baseline responses to see what their retirement DNA looked like. They also developed a mobile app to be used in-branch as a retirement DNA profiling tool. This is being used to help staff identify customers retirement persona, which in turn assists them in their discussions around retirement, pensions and savings plans.

"This innovative research demonstrates how committed we are to really understanding and meeting the needs of the UK's current and future retirees" said Skipton's Group Chief Executive David Cutter.