WASHINGTON -- The 50-plus crowd represents a big market with a lot of disposable income, but many retailers don't seem to know how to get their attention.
This was among the findings of a research project commissioned by the International Mass Retail Association, focusing on shopping habits of older consumers.
The study aimed to find out whether mass retailers and suppliers understand the needs of the 50-plus customer. It revealed that there are some big gaps in the perceptions among retailers and suppliers of the older consumer's buying habits.
"In 1996, the oldest of the baby boomers turns 50, and every 7 1/2 seconds, somebody turns 50 from that point on," said Ken Dychtwald, president and chief executive officer of Age Wave, a firm specializing in research on older Americans.
Age Wave conducted the survey for IMRA by polling 1,000 manufacturers and suppliers and surveying 500 people over 50 in shopping malls. Dychtwald revealed the results at IMRA's annual convention here last month.
Dychtwald said there are 65 million Americans over 50 -- more than twice the population of Canada -- and they spend 40 percent of all consumer dollars.
Dychtwald offered these statistics about older consumers:
People 50 and older control 77 percent of all financial assets in the U.S.
They control 80 percent of the money in savings and financial institutions.
Sixty-seven percent own their homes free and clear.
They control 50 percent of all discretionary income.
They buy 67 percent of all prescription drugs and 51 percent of over-the-counter drugs.
They buy 25 percent of all toys -- there are 55 million grandparents over 50.
They buy 48 percent of all luxury cars, and 80 percent of luxury travel.
"The group coming up is very different from those they are replacing," Dychtwald said. "They tend to feel 10 to 15 years younger than their actual age, but they've been marketed to as if they were 10 to 15 years older."
For example, when asked whether health problems have changed the lifestyle of the 50-plus customer, 68 percent of retailers said yes, while only 53 percent of consumers said yes.While 71 percent of consumers said they have more time on their hands, only 28 percent of retailers said consumers had more free time.
"That new free time can be spent shopping," Dychtwald said. "You can arrange special events and promotions during the quiet times of the week. The 50-plus crowd is more flexible about their time."
Asked if safety and security was a concern among older shoppers, 32 percent of retailers said yes, while 52 percent of consumers said safety was a concern.
Is the 50-plus consumer willing to be self-indulgent in purchases? In a large discrepancy between reality and perception, just 16 percent of retailers said yes, while 73 percent of consumers said they would.
"People in their 50s and 60s are very self-indulgent and materialistic," Dychtwald said. "They aren't saving to pass assets to future generations -- they're enjoying themselves."
He added that Depression-era people, who tend to be more fiscally conservative, are now over 70.
About 80 percent of people over 50 are also willing to try new products -- the idea of brand loyalty among mature customers is a myth, he said.
Dychtwald outlined 12 tactics for capitalizing on the increased spending power of 50-plus consumers:
Improve labels and signs, with larger type, contrasting colors and convenient placement.
Increase product trials with in-store demonstrations and sampling.
Display supplier-provided brochures with product information.
Reformulate the product mix and packaging to meet the needs of 50-plus consumers. Big handles and easy-grip packages are two suggestions.
Increase the number of features in the store to make it a destination for more consumers. For example, a retailer might add photo services, food, video rental, mailing and package services, in-store banking or other business services.
Reduce stocking activities during heavy shopping hours. This will make movement in the store easier.
Add seating throughout the store.
Make security personnel visible in and around the store and parking lot.
Match shopping music with customer preferences. For example, if the store is running a senior-citizen discount, don't play loud rock music. Also, make sure the public address system is loud and clear.
Explore nontraditional consumer media, like noon TV news shows, talk radio, or use high-value coupons.
Make department personnel accessible.
Provide seasoned or age-sensitive employees for in-store customer service.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)