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Respecting Elders is Good Manners, But Better Business
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Respecting Elders is Good Manners, But Better Business

While age is just a number, it’s becoming increasingly important to retailers, manufacturers and marketers as shifting population trends favor the elderly. A whopping 2 billion people worldwide will be 60 years and older by 2050, according to the World Health Organization. That’s one-in-five people. According to new findings from Nielsen, however, industries are largely unprepared to meet the needs of aging consumers. Across brand marketing and advertising, fast-moving consumer goods retailing and other industries, the research sheds light on significant gaps between the products and services currently available and what consumers say they need for their health and well-being in the “golden” years.

What’s giving us gray hairs? Industries aren’t alone in their concerns about coping with the affects that a growing populous of elderly can bring. A majority of global respondents worry about not having the self-reliance it takes to care for our basic needs in old age (58%), or losing their physical agility (57%) or mental competence (51%). Retailers, manufacturers and service providers can speak directly to this growing market by addressing these concerns and catering to their needs with conveniences like handicapped accessibility and easy-to-read product labels.

“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, Consumer & Shopper Insights, Nielsen. “People aged 65 and older already outnumber kids under 14 in many developed countries like Japan, Germany and Italy, according to population stats from the CIA World Factbook. 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.”

The spending power of aging consumers is often affected by the lifestyle changes that come with aging. Empty nests, for instance, can shift household spending priorities. For example, consumers often re-direct the money they once dedicated to support a young and growing family toward products and services that meet aging lifestyle changes, such as dietary adjustments, physical constraints, medical considerations and travel challenges. With worldwide spending among mature consumers projected to reach $15 trillion annually by the end of this decade (according to A.T. Kearney), this growing segment has money to spend. How can industries seize this opportunity and rise to meet the needs and challenges of an aging demographic?

On the product front, half of worldwide respondents in Nielsen’s survey say it’s difficult to find product labels that are easy to read, and 43 percent have trouble locating packages that are easy to open. More than four-in-10 can’t find foods that meet special nutritional diets (45%), come in smaller portion-sized packaging (44%) or have clearly labeled nutritional information (43%). Understanding the special nutritional needs and dexterity limitations of older consumers is essential to meeting their needs.

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

The report also discusses:

  • Global retirement expectations.
  • A regional review of aging concerns around the world.
  • Digital engagement sentiment for grocery shopping.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Aging report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The findings in this survey are based on respondents with online access across 60 countries. While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration has not reached majority potential, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.