Nielsen: Retailers Missing Mark on Meeting Seniors’ Needs

NEW YORK -- With the World Health Organization reporting that more than 2 billion people worldwide will be over the age of 60 by 2050, age is becoming more important to retailers and manufacturers, according to the findings from a new Nielsen global survey on aging.

The research shows that industries are largely unprepared to meet the needs of these consumers. In fact, the latest study found that companies in the United States completely miss the mark when it comes to engaging and catering to the needs of aging consumers, which could mean the loss of a huge opportunity for retailers and manufacturers, according to Nielsen.

“The findings serve as a wake-up call to manufacturers, retailers and other marketers that need to bolster efforts to better reach and cater to an aging demographic,” said Todd Hale, senior vice president of consumer and 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.”

The research sheds light on significant gaps between the products and services currently available and what aging consumers say they need for their health and wellbeing in the “golden” years. A majority of global respondents worry about not having the self-reliance it takes to care for their basic needs in old age (58 percent), or losing their physical agility (57 percent) and mental competence (51 percent).

According to Nielsen, there is an opportunity for retailers, manufacturers and service providers to speak directly to this growing market by addressing these concerns and catering to their needs with conveniences such as handicapped accessibility and easy-to-read product labels.

Changes to Consider

On the product front, half of worldwide respondents in the Nielsen survey said it’s difficult to find product labels that are easy to read, and 43 percent have trouble locating packages that are easy to open. In addition, more than four in 10 can’t find foods that meet special nutritional diets (45 percent), come in smaller portion-sized packaging (44 percent) or have clearly labeled nutritional information (43 percent).

On the retailer front, one in three global respondents believe stores are not catering to the needs of older consumers by providing aisles dedicated to aging-needs products (34 percent), offering handicapped check-out lanes (33 percent) or lending assistance with grocery bags (36 percent). Roughly one in four around the world also said retailers aren’t equipped with benches to sit down (29 percent), ample handicapped parking (25 percent), handicapped bathrooms (23 percent), easy-to-reach shelving (23 percent) or handicapped ramps and doors (22 percent).

Looking specifically at the U.S., there are 10 areas retailers and manufacturers should consider:

1. 38 percent of Americans say they don’t see advertising that reflects older consumers.

2. 44 percent say it’s difficult to find product labels that are easy to read.

3. 43 percent can’t find easy-to-open packaging.

4. 34 percent can’t find smaller portion-sized food packaging.

5. 31 percent said products are not clearly labeled with nutritional information.

6. 25 percent can’t find products geared toward their special nutritional needs.

7. Younger Americans fear losing their physical and mental agility whereas older Americans fear having enough money to live comfortably.

8. 60 percent of Americans don’t feel they are financially set for retirement.

9. 53 percent fear losing their self-reliance such as the ability to drive, cook and shop.

10. 57 percent fear having enough money to live comfortably and an equal number fear losing their mental and physical agility.

 “While the global aging population is growing in number, their spending power is growing too, as many have more time to shop and spend than their younger counterparts,” Hale stated.

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