Retailers don’t meet needs of maturing consumers

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A study by management consultancy A.T. Kearney has found that retailers and manufacturers across the globe are failing to meet the specific needs of the massive, growing and global ageing population.

A.T. Kearney interviewed 3,000 people in 23 countries to find out what mature consumers are looking for in retail stores and from consumer goods manufacturers. Mature consumers form a worldwide market segment that spent USD $8 trillion (£5 trillion) in 2010 and will be spending $15 trillion (£9 trillion) annually by the end of this decade.

Based on current worldwide demographic trajectories, in five years there will be more people over the age of 60 than under 5; in 30 years, there will be more people over 60 than under 16.

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The study has found that the over-80s are very brand loyal, spending on established names rather than shifting on to products that offer benefits such as being “green” or healthier.

“One intriguing tendency emerging from the Global Maturing Consumer study is that in a number of different ways, the views of respondents seem to intensify, or to shift, after the age of 80,” said Martin Walker, senior director of A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council.

The study found that after the age of 80, respondents are markedly more eager to have age-specific products and shopping environments tailored for them. “It is almost as if 80 is the new point of self-definition for becoming old; if so, this represents a noticeable change from the traditional concept that old age begins at retirement,” commented Walker.

A.T. Kearney suggest that cultural and demographical changes need to be addressed by retailers and manufacturers to meet the needs of this market segment. For the past 60 years, marketing and advertising strategies and much of our popular culture have been driven by the cult of youth.

The company says that the nature and the image of ageing is changing as people into their 70s and 80s continue to live full lives despite many retailers and manufacturers avoiding the realities of ageing in an attempt to distance themselves from appearing “old”.

Although most retailers focus on speed and prices competitiveness, mature consumers are more demanding on quality and services, and are less price sensitive.

A.T. Kearney says that older shoppers want personal attention from friendly, talkative cashiers, not speed, and they also want smaller stores closer to home with an organised selection of high-quality products. Many are now connected to the internet and can also browse online to source information and buy products.

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