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A closer look at seniors’ shopping habits reveals opportunities: survey

The Nielsen Global Survey About Aging finds retailers in North America are meeting seniors’ needs, but food manufacturers could do more


New York City – A survey has found that in North America retailers and product manufacturers are doing a better job at meeting the needs of seniors.

The Nielsen Company polled more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries and compiled the results in a report called The Nielsen Global Survey About Aging.

It seems retailers in North America received the highest percentages for meeting aging consumers needs in these areas:

• providing foods for special dietary needs (52%);
• clearly labelled nutritional information (53%);
• ample lighting (51%);
• handicapped bathrooms (38%);
• handicapped ramps and doors (37%);
• electronic shopping carts (36%);
• online shopping delivery options (34%);
• wide aisles for handicapped accessibility (34%) and
• courteous customer service (33%).

“As retailers and manufacturers clamor to create a point of differentiation for their products and services, they only need to listen to the loud call for help coming from consumers in all parts of the world,” says Todd Hale, senior vice-president, Consumer & Shopper Insights at Nielsen.

“Improvements such as using larger fonts on product labels and signage, arranging age-related products in one place and at arm’s length for easier accessibility, and offering friendly customer service can go a long way in building loyal patronage.”

Products

On the product front, the report found that more work is necessary to cater to seniors who often have special nutritional needs or dexterity limitations or desire smaller-size food portion packaging.

Half of the worldwide respondents said it is difficult to find product labels that are easy to read, and 43 per cent have trouble locating packages that are easy to open. More than four in 10 cannot find foods that meet special nutritional diets (45%), offer smaller portion-size food packaging (44%) or have clearly labelled nutritional information on food packages (43%).

The survey also found that almost half of respondents around the world (45%) say that eating healthy is the most important priority after retirement.

Other top priorities include staying physically and mentally fit (78%), spending time with family (58%) and maintaining an active social life (37%).

 Growing category

The report found that the biggest selling and growing categories among households age 65+ include products such as medications, remedies and vitamins.

But the list also includes other items that may not be top of mind for retailers and manufacturers when considering the needs and desires of older consumers, and they deserve closer attention, say the report authors.

In the U.S., for example, the sale of many baking-related categories over index among households age 65+ as many older consumers find themselves in the kitchen not just cooking, but baking too. With dollar volume indexes significantly higher than the expected norm of 100 (and in some cases more than double the average) for pie crust mixes (233), canned peaches (229) and cherries (187), canned pudding pie filling (160), canned pie and pastry filling (160), coffee cake mixes (160) and frozen whipped toppings (151), manufacturers and retailers should consider cross-merchandising opportunities. Alcoholic beverages, such as vermouth (239), dessert wine (212) and scotch (182) also show sales indexes higher than expected for this age group.

“When thinking about the shopping needs of an older demographic, we sometimes forget that seniors live active social lives and enjoy entertaining with family and friends,” said Hale.

“A closer look at their shopping baskets reveals golden opportunities for marketers to better align products and services with not just their nutritional and medical needs, but their social desires too.”


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