Senior Moments: Marketing to Older Shoppers
By Al McClain
The challenges and opportunities of the senior market are many. Virtually everyone knows that the senior market is growing, but how will future seniors – read Baby Boomers – behave?
In a presentation at the ACNielsen Consumer 360 Conference, ACNielsen Senior VP Todd Hale (and RetailWire BrainTrust panelist) said there are opportunities for retailers and suppliers to better market to an aging population and that they should do so with a well thought out plan, because seniors remember those who treat them well or poorly.
Some information is well known; some surprising:
- In 1900, 13 percent of the population was over 50 — by 2020 that will be 35 percent.
- Eighty percent of financial assets are owned by those 50+.
- In ages 60-64, there are 89 men per 100 women — by age 80+ there are only 53 men per 100 women.
- While many ailments are more common to seniors, some tend to go away as people age, such as headaches, depression, and allergies.
- Grocery trips, even among seniors, are down as they take advantage of super center, clubs, and dollar stores.
- Sunday is the most important shopping day of the week for the population as a whole — it is the least important for seniors, as they tend to stay away from the crowds on weekends and shop mid-week.
Senior attitudes are unsurprising in that they have more time to shop, care less about larger sizes and meal solutions, and aren’t in as big a hurry to get out of the store.
In the “surprising to me” category, seniors are less likely to budget because they have to and likely to shop large stores. In areas of opportunity, they are more likely to buy meat from a service counter, shop from a list and use ads for planning than the general population.
Mr. Hale argued that seniors in the future won’t behave like past seniors due to:
- Advances in medical technology
- Better education
- Higher concern with health and wellness
- Expanded shopping and buying choices
- Internet acceptance
- New product focus from manufacturers
Areas to think about include:
- Seniors may be more accepting of large formats than previously thought
- Personal interaction with staff is important, so that should be considered in hiring
- May need to adjust store hours to accommodate seniors
- Offer banded packs to provide value without having to buy club size
- Think about doing senior-specific marketing and advertising
Moderator’s Comment: What opportunities exist to do more business with seniors?
The fact of the matter is the 50+ crowd has a ton of money, in aggregate. Getting them to part with it is another matter. As people accumulate wisdom with
regard to the value of things, it becomes more difficult to get them to make impulse purchases. By marketing to seniors (versus targeting them), treating them with courtesy and
respect, and offering them special opportunities, retailers and suppliers can improve their business with a consumer group that can spend a lot, if they are motivated to do so.
Al McClain – Moderator