What Do 80+ Consumers Want?
A new survey by A.T. Kearney identified a number of different ways consumers’ needs intensify or shift after the age of 80. For example, the over-80s are much more loyal to established brands, and less willing to spend money on products that offer healthy benefits or are considered "green." After the age of 80, respondents were also markedly more eager to have age-specific products and shopping environments tailored for them.
"It is almost as if 80 is the new point of self-definition for becoming old," said Martin Walker, senior director of A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council, in a statement. "If so, this represents a noticeable change from the traditional concept that old age begins at retirement."
The findings were part of a comprehensive study exploring aging consumers based on interviews with 3,000 people over the age of 60 in 23 countries. Like other research, the study noted how factors such as lower birth rates, improving health, greater wealth accumulated by Baby Boomers and elders working later in life will lead to those over 60 becoming proportionately bigger spenders than historically. But the survey also gave a glimpse into how purchasing patterns change as people age.
Among the findings:
- Fifty-two percent in the 60-70 group, 58 percent in the 70-80 group and 66 percent aged over 80 say they cannot read labels properly, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
- Sixty-three percent of those under 70 — and 75 percent over 70 — say they would like to be able to sit down in stores.
- Two-thirds of those aged 70 to 80 say they shop twice a week or more.
- The older they are, the more respondents preferred smaller stores and shopping closer to home. They were also more likely to walk to the shops rather than drive or be driven.
- Mature consumers spend proportionally less of their income on clothing and transportation than people under age 60, and more on food, beverages and non-prescription health products. They buy fewer items but tend to spend more per item.
- Mature customers seek quality products, are loyal to brands and are not particularly price sensitive — even if their incomes are below average levels. Those trends were even more pronounced with aging.
- Many respondents in the study expressed a negative view of advertising, finding it too loud, and too focused on young people and rock music.
- Most commented on the inability to navigate large stores, with too many hard-to-reach products on shelves that are either too low or too high.
The study concluded by emphasizing that within 25 years, individuals older than 85 will represent more than eight percent of the population in Japan and between three and five percent of people in Europe and the U.S.
"Adapting to the radically different requirements of mature consumers can have extensive consequences for retailers and manufacturers," the authors wrote in the study. "As this customer group grows and gains even more purchasing power, smart companies will adjust their strategies accordingly to gain a competitive advantage."
- New A.T. Kearney Global Study ‘What Do Mature Consumers Want?’ Identifies the Huge Potential of This Consumer Segment That Will Spend $15 Trillion Annually by the End of This Decade – A.T. Kearney/MarketWatch
- What Do Mature Consumers Want? – A.T. Kearney
Discussion Questions: Do you feel the “self-definition for becoming old” is now starting at the age of 80? What changes will be required by retailers to address issues faced by noticeably elderly consumers?