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Marketing to the Ageing Consumer by Dick Stroud and Kim Walker

This article was inspired by Dick Stroud and Kim Walker's Marketing to the Ageing Consumer . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.

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How to Sell to Older Customers

“There is little benefit having an age-friendly product without the supporting age-friendly infrastructure.”

As life expectancies increase and fertility rates decline, older consumers will soon be the driving force behind global consumption.

According to Accenture, McKinsey and BCG, three “management consulting firms,” consumer spending in the two decades will be mostly driven by older customers, especially those 65 and older.

Most companies try to sell to younger consumers, since their preferences develop early in life. Contrary to popular belief, people do not necessarily stay loyal to the same brands throughout their lives. Rather than ignoring ageing customers, Apple’s advertisements have been age neutral, garnering them business similar companies ignored.

In order to market to elderly buyers, you must focus on solving their physiological needs not addressing their alleged psychological preferences. There are many divisions in buying preferences among the ageing population, as class, ethnicity and gender influence spending decisions. Despite varied backgrounds, all elderly individuals must deal with their declining health.

Consider the five following aspects of addressing older consumers:

  1. “Communications” – Your advertising must be relevant to the older generation.
  2. “Online” – Make your site accessible and easy to shop with.
  3. “Retail” – Create an environment at some of your retail outlets that appeal to older shoppers. Most stores are loud and annoying to the elderly.
  4. “Product or service” – Create products and services that are age-friendly, whether they are “age-neutral” or not.
  5. “Sales and support” – Young salespeople or call-center employees often have trouble connecting with older customers. Make your sales and support more age-friendly.

Without meeting physiological needs, products will never meet the elderly’s psychological desires. When developing products for older people, you should consider ageing’s effects on the body, the mind and sensations.

  1. A degenerating body – Research has demonstrated that 99% of people over the age of 50 believe that, in the case of product packages, they have become progressively harder to open. Loss of strength and flexibility should be taken into account when designing products. Make them easier for aged bodies to handle.
  2. An older mind – As the human brain ages, it becomes much harder for it to understand new information. Complexity is not your friend! Make your websites and advertisements as simple as possible.
  3. Deadened sensations – Aging dramatically affects the five senses. Create products that will appeal to those with deteriorating faculties.

When you create products for the elderly, younger shoppers won’t be turned off. A “universal design” will make your commodity far more successful than one targeted at specific people groups.

Just as your customers age with time, your workers will too. Make your company as age-friendly as the products it produces. Not only will this garner a positive reputation for your organization, it will also increase productivity.


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