Every once in a while you hear things from respondents that simply stick.

Doing some insight work in OTC pain pharmaceuticals, we interviewed a guy in his mid 40s. Like we had found already  years ago in health insurance research, he belonged to a segment of the population whose needs are strongly driven by ‘steeling oneself’.

This is a need where one plays hard (ie, in the gym, out on the tennis court), fully accepting that it will hurt. In fact, the need is not fulfilled if it doesn’t hurt. But psychologically for these people this means toughening oneself. Very much like the martial arts movies in which people constantly hit and kick a wooden dummy (anyone also a Bruce Lee fan?).

This motivation is not confined just to younger people, but especially around those aged 40-55 it becomes a strong motivation for men and women alike. In a psychological context this is due to many of us realising we are becoming old farts and it’s all going downhill. So, what do we do? We work against it and we do it hard. No pain, no gain becomes the motto. We do it to ourselves to steel us against what’s inevitably going to come.

In a social context it is now the time for many of us where their kids are more independent and don’t need us as much. A time of humongous change respondents describe as challenging in rediscovering themselves and their relationship with their partner (no wonder divorce rates spike in the mid 40s). But equally a time of immense freedom ‘the 40s are not the 30s, they’re the new 20s’. In fact, better. All the freedom of the 20s again and money to spend.

But what’s it all got to do with a Voltaren sandwich. Let’s get back to, let’s call him, Michael.

With glee Michael described his weekly tennis gettogethers, playing hard until it really hurt and then indulging in a Voltaren Sandwich, meaning a rub with a good dose of Voltaren to prove to oneself that one recovers quickly and painlessly like the man of steel himself.

I am sure a lot of you reading this do exactly the same.