More and more South African companies are offering retirees some form of financial relief, says Marilyn Hallett, founder and MD of
You’ve Earned it (YE!).
YE! is an online directory where companies can list – free of charge – discounts or benefits for retirees.
The latest Sanlam Benchmark Retirement Survey found that 60% of SA pensioners do not have enough to live on and the trend is getting worse. The survey also confirmed that 97% of all South Africans cannot maintain a decent standard of living during retirement.
Hallett says that most retirees have always struggled due to a low savings culture in South Africa, but over the last five to seven years, the situation has been aggravated by the recent recession and the high cost of healthcare, food and petrol.
“We are also seeing more of the ‘sandwich effect’ these days. Instead of economically active pre-retirees in their forties and fifties using disposable income to invest for their retirement, they are having to contribute towards sustaining unemployed children on the one hand and parents who cannot survive on their savings or pensions on the other,” says Hallett.
The impact of discounts or benefits offered by companies can range from a retiree being able to buy bare necessities or being able to fix a plumbing problem to enjoying a meal at a restaurant or even a weekend breakaway.
Hallett says that it’s not about looking for freebies for struggling retirees. “Companies have goods and services to offer which retirees need or would like to buy, but cannot afford to purchase.
The market opportunity is significant and it becomes a pricing decision as to whether one would like to reach this market or not. YE! offers a platform,” says Hallett.
How big is the market?
“There are over 3.5 million South Africans over the age of 60. Granted, they are not all retired so one can discount that number but consider that 97% of whatever number you land at would welcome and support some form of relief and one gets a sense of the opportunity.”
With YE! being a web-based directory, is Hallett concerned that retirees are not comfortable using online platforms?
“The bulk of recent retirees were in their late thirties or early forties when the internet first became a commercial tool in South Africa – they’ve been online daily for over 20 years now. When it comes to social media where YE! also communicates discounts and benefits, international figures indicate that 60% of 50-60 year olds are active as are 43% in the 65 age category. In fact, we’re now reworking the website to make it more responsive to mobile phones too.”
YE! is not however just about discounts and benefits.
Recently, they’ve entered into an agreement with an established national franchise which provide members with a no-risk model, that does not require any capital investment. Buying into this model helped five YE! members to improve their monthly income while doing what they enjoyed – meeting new people and managing them to reach their fitness goals through walking and running.
Notes to the editor:
The subject of retirement has always been close to 60 year old Marilyn Hallett’s heart.
In 2008, Juta’s published her book You’ve Earned It, listing over 400 companies which offered discounts and benefits to the senior citizen market.
Such was Marilyn’s passion and commitment to make a difference to retirees, that she resigned a good job in her late fifties in order to pursue her vision for an online YE!.
The YE! business model is extremely tough and multi-dimensional. One has to source sufficient quality discounts in order to attract enough followers or members and, if you get this right, you’ll earn some revenue from paying advertisers.
While Marilyn is already attracting advertisers, her drive is to attract as many discounts and benefits as possible, creating a network of businesses – big and small – throughout South Africa which give something back to retirees.
In 2011, Marilyn took YE! online with the launch of www.youve-earned-it.co.za. Apart from company discount listings, the website also has articles and is interactive, allowing for comment and discussion.
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Marilyn Hallett, the doyenne for retirees and seniors in South Africa.