Age of Opportunity

September 9th, 2011

According to a recent Kearney’ Global Maturing Consumer study, 800 million consumers 60 years and older spent more than $8 trillion worldwide in 2010 and that number is expected to reach $16 trillion by 2020. As people live, work, and stay healthy longer, the number of consumers 60 years or older is expected to hit 2 billion by the middle of the century. Wealth will become even more concentrated among this demographic. Marketers take note, these customers know exactly what they want. Plus, they are inherently more brand loyal than younger demographics.

This senior customer is primarily interested in brands who offer personal attention and friendly communication versus a speedy experience, an organized collection of high quality products offered at affordable prices versus endless options of cheaper versions boasting bulk discounts, and packaging that is easy to read, open, and carry. Nearly 59% of survey respondents said they cannot read package labels, even if wearing glasses or contacts. Yet they also do not want any reminder or indication that they are getting older. Some brands are enjoying success after having recognized the slight adjustments needed to approach this mature demographic.

Kohler Co. changed the name of their shower handrail from “grab bar” to “Belay” a euphemism for something more luxurious than just a shower aid. Knowing this demographic downsizes into new homes, Sherwin Williams predicted an increased demand for home products and responded by redesigning their stores to incorporate more lighting, provided comfortable seating, eliminated fine print in their product displays, and now serve coffee at most locations. CVS and Walgreens too, installed carpeting to prevent slipping, lowered product shelves from 72” to 60”, and moved age-specific products into corresponding personal care aisles to prevent any feelings of estrangement. Emerald Nuts capitalized on health recommendations suggesting the incorporation of nuts into this demographics’ healthy eating plan and introduced packaged nuts for snacking that are indented on the side to make holding easier, have grooves on the lid for easier gripping, and have a shortened rotation required to twist the lid on and off.

If this sounds like a lot of demands, consider the fact that this age group is comprised of the most enthusiastic shoppers, two-thirds visit a retail store or shopping mall at least twice a week. The Kearney study also found this mature demographic represents a $19 trillion net worth that is almost double the U.S. average, is the most affluent of all other demographics, owns more than 75% of the country’s financial wealth, and thus represents an incredible opportunity for all brands.

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