The major demographic trend toward increased longevity and a rapidly growing 50+ population creates new business opportunities for those who recognize them. If you pay attention and adapt your products and services to meet the needs of this market, you’ll gain a great advantage over those who still only consider the 20-40 market.
It’s important to understand the changes that your 50+ customers undergo as they get older. Put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine how they would experience your business and products. Is access to the product convenient? Is the packaging easy to open? Is the product easy to use? Will it meet the needs of the older consumer?
A great deal could be learned by walking through your store with a group of 50 to 80+ customers, and asking them to tell you what goes through their minds as they browse and pick up items. Employees who aren’t part of the 50+ demographic themselves also need to be trained to respond to these customers’ unique needs.
Based on an understanding of the physical and cognitive changes confronting 50+ customers, a number of simple adjustments can be made to the shopping environment which will greatly enhance their shopping experience.
FIX THE EASY THINGS FIRST
• Make doors easy to open and aisles wide enough to accommodate a walker
• Provide seating and provide a restroom that’s easy to find and access
• Watch for rugs or displays that could be tripped on
• Simplify and clarify signage, marketing materials and decor
• Diffuse lighting and reduce glare
• Reduce background noise
• Create an information station or an obvious place to get questions answered
• Provide home delivery of on-line or telephone orders
• Make new learning situations as comfortable and uncomplicated as possible, allowing the customer to learn at their own pace
• When leaving a phone message, speak slowly and clearly
• Train staff to speak clearly to and listen to your customers
• Pay attention to trends in what 50+ customers consume
• Make your shopping environment equally comfortable for both the 40-year-old customer and her 70-year-old mother.
Understanding and adapting for the unique impacts of aging on your customers and potential customers is the first step to tapping the profitability of this emerging market.
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