Brands have ‘totally missed out’ on older consumers

Date:Thursday, November 29, 2018
Author:Charlie Gilbert

Stefanie Dorfer, our Retail editor, unpacks the potential of the silver economy – and reveals why the growing number of older consumers could be your next key demographic.

Brands haven’t just missed an opportunity when it comes to catering to older consumers. They’ve downright ignored it.

This is according to Stefanie Dorfer, our Retail editor, who believes that brands and retailers – especially in lifestyle-focused industries like fashion and beauty – have “totally missed out” on the spending power of older people.

Why? “Because they are obsessed with youth,” Stefanie says. “Now, however, retailers are beginning to realise how to tap into their potential. Instead of coming up with completely new products and services, they’re modifying them in line with older people’s needs.

“We are witnessing a total overhaul – with UX of services and packaging of products not only serving older consumers, but eliminating their pain points.” Get this right, Stefanie says, and retailers – particularly those selling everyday necessities – may quickly have another core consumer group.

We explored this potential further in Retail for the Silver Economy, which revealed that, by 2025, the EU’s 50+ population will have increased from 199 million to 222 million, or 43% of its total population. And how, with longer life expectancy and falling birth rates, this trajectory will continue.

How, though, do you talk to 50+ consumers in a way that won’t make them feel, well, old? “It’s a tough thing to get right,” Stefanie says. “But look at Japan – by calling older consumers the Grand Generation, they’re flipping the focus and steering the conversation into a positive light.

“Start by finding out their pain points and working from there. Physical retail, for example, is changing with technologies that boost automation. This makes it harder for older consumers to shop in stores, which serve as social meeting points.

“The next frontier in retail is showing empathy, and what better place to show that you care than within your store? Retailers should embrace services that work around the lifestyles and preferences of the elderly.

“In Japan, stores now open much earlier, because seniors are awake earlier. They go shopping and meet up for green tea with their friends in the mall. Retailers are responding by opening at 6am and having discounts until 8am.

“Now, retailers are realising that they have an opportunity – sometimes even a responsibility – to make sure that consumers can comfortably buy things in store. Take US pharmacy CVS, for example, which has added enlargement lenses to its shelves, which people can use to read product labels. Or French grocer Bien Chez Moi, which offers assisted shopping.

“Initiatives like these increase loyalty. They become beacons of hope for elderly people when you know you can go to a store and feel safe, secure, and supported. This transforms brands into ‘buddies’, a topic we explored in our 2019 Look Ahead.”

If you’re a Stylus member, you can read Retail for the Silver Economy now. If you’re not, discover the benefits of joining.

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