Amazon Targets AARP Set With New Store

Discussion
Apr 18, 2013

Like many others, I first began to receive regular correspondence from AARP in my late forties. Despite the group’s assertions that I would benefit greatly from becoming a member, I didn’t join when I became eligible at 50. This experience flashed into my brain this week when I read a press release from Amazon.com announcing the launch of its 50+ Active and Healthy Living Store (www.amazon.com/50activeliving). While I fit the age demographic, I’m just not sure it’s for me. It just seems too limiting somehow. My needs are defined by many factors that go well beyond my chronological age.

Personal reservations aside, the idea behind the store is to make it easier for older consumers to find and buy products that meet their life-stage needs. Clearly, the graying of America means that Amazon has targeted a large and growing market, one that also has significant levels of disposable income.

"We’re excited to offer customers in the 50+ age range a place to easily discover hundreds of thousands of items that promote active and healthy living. This is a destination where a customer can purchase anything from vitamins and blood pressure monitors to skin care items and books on traveling the world," said Chance Wales, director of beauty and health & personal care for Amazon, in a statement. "Our goal is to offer great prices on a vast selection of items and a robust Resource Center filled with tips on everything from boosting brain power to care-giving."

Items purchased through the store are eligible for free shipping and customers can have discounted items delivered on an ongoing schedule as part of Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program. The store also includes a "coupons" section offering items discounted on a dollar or percentage basis.

Will the 50+ Active and Healthy Living Store be successful for Amazon? Do you expect to see more 50+ retail concepts, both brick & mortar as well as digital, springing up in the years to come?

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20 Comments on "Amazon Targets AARP Set With New Store"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

As George so succinctly noted, Boomers don’t like thinking of themselves as (sorry George skip this part) old, in need of nasal and ear hair removal and incontinent. So … creating a “store” that reminds them of their infirmities may make demographic sense, but I’m not sure it passes the marketing “sniff” test.

I do expect more senior-oriented retailing to emerge, but it has to be a tad more sophisticated than, “Travel to the Orient, but don’t forget your diapers.”

Dick Seesel
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Great idea, and there’s no doubt that Amazon has the patience and IT expertise to find out what works and what doesn’t work, and to adapt accordingly along with their vendor providers. While the sheer number of Millennials is starting to surpass the Boomer population, there is no doubting the older group’s buying power.

Outside of chain drug stores — who have an opportunity to appeal to Boomers in a more focused way — it’s hard to see a brick-and-mortar concept that can offer the breadth of assortment found on Amazon. But there are certainly any number of specialty retail and service concepts that could do a better job catering to this population instead of always chasing the young.

Joan Treistman
Guest
5 years 8 months ago
I think the 50+ is a great idea for Amazon, but probably won’t work as well for brick and mortar. The investment for Amazon is minimal. They can select merchandise they already offer and make it available twice, adding a new link/landing page. And without much investment they can add new targeted products for this age group. For the shopper there’s no embarrassment (like the author and his aversion to AARP enrollment) or stigma associated with the search. And let’s face it, if you are looking for something most often thought of as an older age product, isn’t it easier to find in a section dedicated to those products? It’s also a boon for care givers with aging parents or ill spouses. They don’t need to know the product or brand name of what they are looking for. Amazon makes that investigation easier. On the other hand, similar products in a brick and mortar environment take up real estate. And if the product has two targets — under and over 50 for example — can… Read more »
Paula Rosenblum
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Ryan and George have it exactly right. The concept is about 20 years early. Nothing says “you’re over the hill” more than a store just for you with incontinence supplies or offers of “free cremation.” I’m definitely not ready to go there yet!

A serious turnoff. With Amazon’s marketing and page serving skills, you’d think it could have been accomplished without creating a “store”. Yuck.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

This is not scientific and a totally gut reaction:

1. I am over 50. (I am even over 60.)
2. I am totally turned off.

Tom Redd
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

OK, I have to comment to save the world. Al, George, Rick and most of the WIRE team are most excited about this new site. The Amazon ad reflects how they will all be if they quit working so much, exercise, and just age. Why is it that people always look so happy in these ads about aging? Do they work? Are they in our industry.

This whole site will be great for some — like a person in their 20’s trying to find bowel related holiday gifts for his grandparents. Those Millennials created this site and it as other writers have said, TOO EARLY. 50 ain’t old, it is really hip.

Yes, I am hip.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

This column, and the responses to it, are laugh out loud funny. A lot of us who are eligible to join AARP haven’t, in part because we’re planning to live another 35 years. And I sure don’t want to go to a page that’s going to remind me of all the unpleasant things that may be awaiting me. Time to shop…let’s go to Forever 21.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Definitely, more products will be introduced for this market. There are already a number of magazines — Solutions, Independent Living, As We Age. if you saw the same product in all three from, which magazine would you order? Solutions, of course, because it is not age dependent and does not label you as old or infirm.

Why would a senior want to go to a store that labels one as old and has products related to infirmities and health problems? Yes, there is a market. To target them successfully, retailers need to understand the group.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
5 years 8 months ago
The population numbers of this demographic specimen do demand attention from retail. The initial review of the discretionary spending funds available to these individuals are also enticing. A trend analysis will show a couple of red flags that will slow most growing interests. The first issue of potential peril is the rate and speed of decline in discretionary funds. When this opportunity is further leveraged with inflation, energy cost increases and medical needs, the amount of available funds dwindles into oblivion for the majority of this market. The second area of concern involves the number of e-commerce participants in this group. The majority of the present day population could be reclassified as the last of the ancient BC population — as in, before calculators, cable (television) and computers. Future generations will of course be more receptive to e-commerce activity but have much lower population sizes and the same crippling economic factors will null most of the anticipated growth. All things considered, someone was sure to give this a go and so why not Amazon? The… Read more »
Lee Kent
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Try 70+ and it might just work. There are indeed very specific items that a 70 or 80+ year old, or the children there of, might find hard to locate, much less think of.

As for the 50+ generation, why, they are the new 40 and far, far from needing these specific items. This category is WAY too broad. Just sayin…

Karen S. Herman
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Amazon is smart to target the 50+ demographic with this online store and it has great potential to be popular with both the 50+ market and, even more interestingly, their children. I think both groups will benefit from the resource center, low pricing, free shipping and discounted items delivered on an ongoing schedule. Couponing is great to include, too.

I definitely think creative retail extensions of this 50+ Active and Healthy Living concept will be forthcoming. As George stated, this is a “growing market with significant levels of disposable income.” The Mayo Clinic Mall of America store is a good example to learn from. Venturing into brick and mortar should be short-term, for a strategic marketing reason, not a long-term deal. (Disclaimer – my company designs Pop Up Retail.)

Todd Sherman
Guest
Todd Sherman
5 years 8 months ago

This is a great idea. But it’s currently being executed poorly, which is especially strange considering how good Amazon is at executing.

One of Amazon’s core strengths is personalization. It’s what allows them to sift through their tens or millions of product to show me specifically what’s of interest to me.

Here (at least the initial incarnation) is a static page that throws everyone who is 50+ into the same bucket. This sticks out, with “Incontinence” being at the center of the presentation. If that’s not an issue for you, it’s a big turnoff.

Amazon needs to focus on what’s of interest to the specific individual shopper looking at that store — even for the “category” page.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
5 years 8 months ago

This will be very tricky. Individual people age so differently — and feel so differently about aging, and having it shoved in their faces, and what they are called — that it may well backfire for Amazon. I think a better effort would have been for them to go for a smaller but targeted “65+ active and healthy” site. That age range would be more narrow, would encompass more retired people who have both time and money, and would be safer for Amazon “senior wise”. It could better target the genuine needs for certain age groups.

Frankly most 50 year olds still think of themselves as 35 and really, really, really don’t like being lumped in with senior citizens who they think of as their parents.

Amazon also better be ready with a lot of coupons and discounts to lure this bunch.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

I seem to have been a bit slow today (must be old age setting in) because Todd just gave word to my thoughts: maybe a good idea, but poorly executed, from people who have done better before. And it was nice to not see the usual comments one finds in connection with Amazon, i.e., that everything they do will be a success.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Lee’s idea is interesting — what about a store for children of 70+? But more interesting is: can Amazon create a process to test these types of stores, over and over, and see what sticks?

Susan Partington
Guest
Susan Partington
5 years 8 months ago

Although AARP positions as an organization looking out for the retirees, most under 65 members are only enrolled for the discounts. I don’t think the “retirees” part is really accurate either, for financial or personal reasons, people are working past 50.

As for the website: weird mix of incontinence and entertainment (B&W movies?). And, if the “Beauty” woman is really an AARP member, I suspect sales age-defying creams will be very strong. I was wondering if the exercise and fitness woman is AARP, or you can order her online?

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
5 years 8 months ago

It’s a no brainer! Amazon already has the products, it’s just a matter of organization. I think that the market will move to the 50+ crowd. I think they represent over 90% of the wealth in the USA and are at the stage in life that many will have what they want, but they aren’t fools. I would love to see Amazon jump in and organize seniors to meet their needs. If AARP can do it by selling cheap insurance, Amazon has a clear chance to become one of the most powerful retail/political organizations in the world.

Sid Raisch
Guest
Sid Raisch
5 years 8 months ago

This aligns with the demographic shift. Going with “less is more,” it is a practical method of eliminating everything else that an aging boomer would not be interested in. Don’t we call this “editing”?

Amazon has read the tea leaves and is responding. You’re either marketing to the people who are spending at the upper age end of the market, or at the lower age end of the market. There are now many fewer consumers in the middle. Marketers should take note.

Marie haines
Guest
5 years 8 months ago
Interesting, I am close to 60 with parents in their mid-80s. While I am reluctant to be classed as middle aged and needing special aids, I am on a constant search for fashionable, yet age appropriate clothing. Although I would not consider Amazon a place to find clothing I have searched for and purchased mobility aids for my parents there. What is really lacking in this over 50 market is well-designed items that don’t shout “I’m old and need help tying my shoes!” Too many of these products have a distinctly clinical look. This is a group dealing with sports related injuries (incurred while refusing to admit to their age) and even joint replacement, and they don’t want the ugly white grab bars and steel walkers currently seen in nursing homes. The Boomer generation is moving into old age with an entirely different set of standards and needs. The gym at my community center is expanding for the second time in 20 years to accommodate the increased number middle-aged and even elderly members. But try… Read more »
Kurt Seemar
Guest
Kurt Seemar
5 years 8 months ago

Know your customer. If you can identify a customer set that has different needs and wants to be communicated to differently then why not do just that? I think it is a good idea and for Amazon it is all virtual, so low investment. The incontinence section being highlighted at the center does seem a little out of place, but we can assume Amazon will work the kinks out.

The reality is there is a large digital generation gap. Trying to cross that gap with communications and messaging specifically to those 50+ is a sound idea.

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