As we have discussed, the era of the silver generation has arrived. The silver population, made up of those aged 65 and older, is growing considerably faster than any other age group. They hold a disproportionate share of the wealth and consumer-spending growth globally, driving change in retail.
Many senior shoppers would like stores to make small adaptations, such as simplifying packaging and labels, enhancing product quality, adding greater choices in categories such as apparel and widening aisles to make stores easier to navigate.
Barbara Knickerbocker-Beskind, a 91-year-old who works at design and innovation firm IDEO believes that, “if you’re going to design for the elderly, ask them what they need, don’t tell them.” Her comment is a reminder that retailers must not neglect the unique needs of senior shoppers.
Silvers’ Spending Power
A key factor when considering silvers and the retail sector is how much they spend. Below is data on household spending, split by demographics, for three major economies: the US, the UK and Japan. The message is consistent: households headed by people aged 65 and over spend less than the average.
However, a major factor in this spending shortfall is the typically smaller size of senior households. Once we adjust for the number of people per household, silvers overindex on spending relative to the average. US households of those aged 65-74 direct a substantially greater share of their total spending to retail categories than the average household does.
What Silvers Want
Many seniors view shopping as a social activity and prefer stores with simple layouts. Some of the factors that affect senior consumers’ shopping habits include: simple packaging and labels, close proximity to their homes, quality products, more products catering to older consumers and in-store dining options.
Most retailers have not done much to address the needs of the aging population, but some are reaching out to the silver segment.
How Retailers Have Responded
Some retailers are making minor adjustments to attract silvers by simplifying in-store design, creating senior-friendly activities and using celebrities and models over the age of 50 for marketing campaigns. Below, we profile a few companies that are addressing the silvers appropriately and successfully.
Asda, UK Grocery Retailer
What it has done: On Saturdays, Asda’s Manchester location opens earlier to have a “quiet hour” for those who might be more comfortable without music, loud speaker announcements or other distractions. In addition, staff members hand out store maps with images rather than text.
Why it is significant: The success of Asda’s trial has led eight other stores in the same retail park to follow suit, and awareness of the retail needs of less able groups has increased. Retailers have tended to pay little attention to the needs of consumers who are overwhelmed by features such as noise or excess information. Perhaps in the future we will see retailers reassessing these in-store features.
Lawson, 7-Eleven and FamilyMart, Japan
What they have done: In the mid-2000s, Lawson began to renovate its stores located in areas with a high concentration of seniors by widening aisles, lowering shelves and emphasizing products that cater to older consumers. It also added nursing-care consultation desks.Convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven and FamilyMart, have focused on higher-end foods to cater to seniors, even offering meal delivery services targeted at seniors.
Why it is significant: Japan is ahead of most countries in terms of its aging population. In the 1970s, convenience stores in Japan catered to shoppers in their 20s and 30s, but as the population ages, stores have changed their demographic focus. We are now seeing other markets follow Japan and experiencing a convenience boom.
Aeon Mall, Japan
What it has done: Aeon Mall in Japan is one of the first malls to specifically target silvers by offering services designed to meet their needs including: concierge services, a free bus service, access to medical facilities, financial services consultations, 140 leisure activities and “Begins Partner”, a companionship program. Why it is significant: Aeon Mall has made shopping more convenient for seniors by offering products and services that meet their specific needs in one central location. The additional amenities help make seniors’ shopping journey more of a social activity than a chore.
Kaiser (Germany) and Adeg (Austria) Supermarket Chains
What they have done: Kaiser and Adegs have made adaptations to their store designs and product labels, including specialized shopping carts, additional seating areas, enlarged labels and emergency call buttons throughout the stores.
Why it is significant: These changes may not be very apparent to most shoppers, but they are noticed and appreciated by those they are designed to help, enticing brand-loyal shoppers.
Chains Fifty Plus and Fanny Karst (Online)
What they have done: These online retailers make clothes specifically for silvers.
Why they are significant: Both companies specifically and directly target the silver segment. While Fifty Plus is more for the mass market, Fanny Karst designs made-to-measure, high-fashion clothes for silvers.
CVS and Walgreens Drugstores, US
What they have done: CVS and Walgreens have made adaptations such as putting down carpeted floors, attaching magnifying lenses to shelves and installing shelves at a height that allows seniors to easily navigate stores and read labels.
Why it is significant: Magnifying lenses help customers read small labels, while carpeted floors and accessible shelving allow seniors to navigate stores with less effort.
These are just a few examples of how retailers are making shopping more convenient and appealing to seniors. While store redesign is an important component, it is only part of the shift taking place in the retail industry as a result of the rise of senior shoppers. We think we will see more retailers adapting to silver shoppers and making changes across all channels.
For more details on The Silvers Series read our full report here, or check out our previous Silvers Series Blogs: Economic Opportunities Arise from the Aging Population, Older Consumers Embrace Healthcare Tech, Seniors Shift to In-Home Care and Assisted Living, New Tech Concepts Transform Senior Care, Tech’s Value to Mobility-Constrained Seniors, 5 Technology Solutions for Seniors.