Email marketing is all about discrimination. We define people by classifications such as their profession, where they live and, at least for the time being, their age. Targeting emails is an essential of our craft. Anything that limits our ability to do so is to be regretted.
So should we beware of the Equality Act (EA) 2010 as it prohibits discrimination on the grounds of age (since 1st October 2012)? In a sense the answer is a comprehensive yes and no.
In brief, we can no longer discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone by reason of age by withholding a service or giving inferior terms. There are also provisions against harassing and victimising a person because of age in relation to provisions of services.
Whilst this does not apply to those under the age of 18, if you give concessions to that age group not available to those 18 or over then you are in breach of these regulations. Other exemptions include positive action and a rather vague ‘objective justification’ excuse.
A Statutory Instrument is making its way through Parliament which will allow other exemptions, including age-based concessions,
age related holidays, age verification, club and association concessions, financial services, immigration, residential park homes and sport. These apply where age is a key element of the services and is appropriately advertised.
You are allowed to fashion your product for a group which would include a preponderance of a specific age range and advertise, market and sell such products and services, but you cannot refuse the service to anyone outside your target group.
There is nothing to stop you continuing with an age classification for your subscribers. However, as pointed out in previous articles, this is a very blunt instrument. A better option might be to work out what particular characteristics you believe inherent in an age group are important to you.
Age is not the limitation it once was so this legislation should not be seen as an insuperable problem. If you put a great deal of emphasis on a subscriber’s age then you have missed some of the more important aspects of email marketing.