PL Buyer: Setting Your Sights on Seniors
By Randy Hofbauer
Through a special
arrangement, what follows is a summary of a current article from Private
Label Buyer, presented here for discussion.
Retailers, start your engines. As baby
boomers begin to reach the age of retirement, the population of seniors is
expected to swell dramatically.
According to a Jan. 24, 2010, article
in U.S. News & World Report, the U.S. Census Bureau forecasts
that the 65-and-over population will increase from 38.7 million in 2008 to
88.5 million by 2050. During the same span of time, the 85-and-over population
is expected to grow from 5.4 million to 19 million.
The article goes on to say that these
days, seniors have more of a reason than ever to look forward to their “golden
Marc Narine, vice president of marketing
at National Blends — a manufacturer of skincare products — says his company
views the term “senior” in a different way than some companies viewed it
in years past.
“The persons that this term refers
to, as our company sees it, are on Facebook, are buying airline tickets online,
have a particular preference in search engines and are active — and eager
to stay so,” he says. “As a result, they are taking the time to invest in
their health and actively seeking the information and products that yield
dividends on that investment.”
On the skincare side, Mr. Narine says
National Blends manufactures several products that cater to the needs of
the modern senior. The products contain probiotics, antioxidants and other
supplements to help boost the body’s immune system, treat skin conditions
and rebuild skin cells.
“It’s important that you understand
your consumer,” he says, “what their ‘pains’ are and what ‘fixes’ they seek,
then invest time and money into the relevant channels.”
Obviously, packaging must communicate
the “fixes” a product offers to seniors.
The same packaging attributes work
well in many other senior-focused categories. Rob Lippucci, product marketing
manager at Hospital Specialty Company (Hospeco), Cleveland, says it is important
that retailers print clean, clear and concise descriptors on packaging for
their adult incontinence products.
Easy-to-read packaging helps seniors locate the right product, learn how to
use the product and feel comfortable with their purchase decision.
Still, even with the right products,
retailers need to make sure they employ the right merchandising strategies.
Lippucci says that when it comes to incontinence products, consumers respond
most to print and in-store product promotions.
“Most consumers in this group still
check the weekly circulars for sales and special offers,” he says.
But Mr. Lippucci doesn’t believe retailers
should invest all of their promotional efforts into such traditional areas
— the senior demographic is becoming increasingly tech-savvy, and tools such
as Facebook and Twitter are becoming ever more relevant to seniors.
“It is likely as the baby boomers age,
the internet and social media will become increasingly important tools to
reach the consumers,” he says. “It is becoming increasingly important to
have a product presence on the retailer’s web site for those customers that
search for products or information online.”
What common assumptions about selling to Baby Boomers are spot on or
dead wrong? Is there a corresponding challenge and opportunity
with Boomers that retailers need to address to be successful with them?