70 is the new 50
When considering the older shopper, it’s unwise to take a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Although everyone over the age of fifty may seem ‘old’ to a person in their twenties, there are many different stages of ageing. It’s a gradual process, and it affects each individual in a different way and along a different timescale. What’s more, ‘elderly’ is a relative term which tends to move upwards with the years. People in their sixties often consider only those at least in their seventies ‘elderly’, whereas a healthy 70-year-old may feel middle-aged rather than old. In developed countries, people of retirement age are healthier and more active than ever. So let’s explore this demographic in a little more detail.
Marketing definitions are too grey
The advertising and marketing sector itself tends to be populated by young people – maybe that’s why they tend to regard the older generation as a homogenous group. In actual fact, the 60+ age group contains a wide variety of distinctive personas, ranging from homemakers to CEOs, holidaymakers to stay-at-home types, couch potatoes to wildly adventurous fitness enthusiasts, long-married grandparents to childless singles, and so on. The only thing that unites them is that they all need to shop. In addition Silver Shoppers are big adopters of digital, something that is often overlooked.
What older people buy
As may be expected, older people are among those who often buy ‘meals for one/two’ , but an increasing number are still feeding a family. Rising house prices, the difficulty in finding a decent house to rent, divorce and job losses are some factors behind the growing numbers of ‘boomerang children’: adults who return to live with their parents when circumstances make this the best option. Although cashiers at your checkouts are no doubt familiar with the traditional sight of little old ladies only buying one tin of cat food, other retirees are catering for dinner parties or purchasing expensive bottles of wine as a regular treat. With the pension age in many countries on the rise, lots of senior citizens will spend more years earning money via a salary or their own business, giving them a larger income than people of the same age a decade or two ago. Upselling is the obvious retail response – many of these people appreciate little everyday luxuries, and can afford to pay for them.
Retailers must adapt to win over older shoppers
According to a report by market research bureau Conlumino, the over-55s will contribute nearly two-thirds of retail sales growth over the next few years. As its MD Neil Saunders points out, “The older shopper of tomorrow is very different from today’s. They are a lot more savvy and demanding in terms of customer services and they are more attuned to fashion trends which they want adapted to suit their age bracket.”