The Do’s and Don’ts of Baby Boomer Retailing
By George Anderson
Everyone knows that Baby Boomers (those 45 and up) are a huge consumer market but that’s about as far as most retailers’ understanding of this group goes, according to Patrick Conroy and Bruce Westbrook of Deloitte.
“We’re the forgotten pile of folks, except that we have the biggest checkbooks,” said Mr. Conroy, national managing partner of Deloitte’s consumer business industries.
The reason for this oversight, said Mr. Westbrook, is the nation’s “youth oriented culture.”
Deloitte’s Westbrook pointed out that boomers do not fit neatly into pigeonholes. Economically, as a Chicago Sun-Times report pointed out, there are some within the group with money to burn while others are watching their pennies.
A clearer understanding of boomers and a list of do’s and don’ts is the key to capturing a greater share of this group’s expenditures, according to the analysts.
Among the things on Messrs. Conroy and Westbrook’s to-do list for retailers is to increase the focus on customer service. Baby boomers expect greater levels of service and store personnel that excel in this area should be rewarded for it.
They also recommend appealing to this segment with products that make them feel younger or, at least, less self-conscious. An example, included in the Sun-Times piece, was Chico’s sizing of garments on a zero to three scale rather than traditional sizes from four to 16.
As for things that retailers should avoid doing if they want more boomer business, Deloitte’s Conroy suggested a good place to start. “If you call them ‘seniors’ or ‘older adults,’ you’re on the wrong path already,” he said.
Moderator’s Comment: Do you agree with the assessment as summarized in the Chicago Sun-Times headline that ‘retailers are missing out on baby
boomers’ bucks’? What is your list of things to do and not do when advertising/merchandising/selling to members of this group? Are there retailers that closely follow your list
of do’s and don’ts in the practice of their business? –
George Anderson – Moderator