Don't forget the elderly

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Hardly a day goes by in the world of marketing without hearing or reading about Millennials, touted as the future powerhouse of consumers. Many businesses seem to have focused on making the most of the opportunities the millennial consumer brings, writes HIM’s Heidi Lanschuetzer.

In grocery retailing, one way this has become apparent is the rising prevalence of self-service checkouts. But as much as technology is enhancing the shopping experience for many, it can act as a deterrent to some. Indeed, a recent survey by the Centre for Future Studies, commissioned by Anchor, a charity for older people, found that almost one in four (24%) older people (70+) are put off by self-service checkouts, some finding them “intimidating” and “unfriendly”.

Older people (65+) make up a significant proportion of the UK population – 18% – and according to ONS projections will make up 24% of the total population by mid-2041. Over-65s also represent a pretty significant demographic in the context of convenience shopping. HIM data shows that those aged 65 years and older make up almost a quarter (23%) of total c-store shoppers. They are a valuable demographic, too. The average basket spend among 65-74s is £6.50 – compared with £6.29 for 25-34s – and they are more frequent shoppers, too.

The Centre for Future Studies estimates that by 2030, retailers who are not elderly-friendly could be losing annual spending of £0.58bn to £4.5bn. So not only does it make financial sense to cater to this demographic, but we also have a responsibility – as a society, as individuals and as business owners alike – to look after the elderly.

Human interaction is what gets older people into shops and there are many ways of enabling this, for instance by maintaining staffed checkouts, providing seating areas or hosting in-store book clubs and tea parties. Promisingly, retailers who demonstrate community involvement will be rewarded for doing so; HIM data shows that shoppers will visit a store more frequently if they rate the store’s community involvement more positively. So what’s stopping you from taking on some of the responsibility we all share in looking after the elderly?

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