Generation Opt-Out: New Research Discovers Crisis of Engagement and Trust Among UK Over-55’s

New research published jointly today by Opinium Research and Grayling has found a distinct group within UK society who are increasingly hard to reach with important public service, health, political and business communications.

The group, coined the ‘Opt-Outs’ comprise 29% of the UK and are a section of society that government, media, brands and advertisers find it harder to get through to, and who feel a growing sense of alienation.

Overwhelmingly comprised of the over-55s and more likely to be female, the Opt-Outs have low rates of engagement with, and trust in, media, with 27% watching television once a month, 60% never reading a print newspaper, 36% never reading online news sites, and 26% saying that social media can never be trusted at all.

Perhaps of most concern, this group are increasingly hard to reach with important public service information. Nearly 20% of those within this category claim to ‘never’ receive any public health information via any channel, whilst nearly 25% say they ‘never’ receive any government communications, and nearly 30% claim to ‘never’ see any information pertaining to politics. This leaves an audience of millions of Britons untouched by communications on a variety of vitally important issues.

This lack of engagement with, and trust in, media, appears to translate to a lack of engagement with, and trust in, politics and wider society. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the ‘Opt-Outs’ have no trust that the Government takes decisions in the public interest, whilst 65% saying they feel ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ connected to their local community.

This ‘Opt-Outs’ group of UK citizens:

  • Comprises 29% of the country
  • 65% of this category is female
  • 53% of the ‘Opt-Outs’ are made up of the over-55s
  • More likely to be blue-collar professionals and retirees

Commenting on the findings, Sarah Scholefield, Global CEO of Grayling, said: “It’s worrying to find a large number of people at risk of becoming disconnected. Not just from media, but more broadly. As we come out of one global health emergency and into a serious cost-of-living crisis, this presents a huge challenge to governments, brands, media, service providers, and communicators; we need to work hard to ensure vital communications and messaging reaches those people who need it most.”

Scholefield continued: “We are clearly better connected than ever before, but many traditional channels don’t work for everyone. We know from working with clients who strive to reach their audiences in every way possible that we always need to find alternative ways of connecting with audiences.”

Opinium’s Research Director, Josh Glendinning, commented: “We often assume that having more ways to communicate than ever is an unalloyed good. But communication is underpinned by trust and good faith. Without these, new technology is an irrelevance at best and a recipe for further alienation at worst.

“Communicating with groups who feel disconnected starts by better understanding them. We hope that this research goes some way to improving this understanding and starting an important conversation about how we can reconnect.”

To access the full report please click here