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How Companies Can Deliver What the Doctor Ordered for Health-Focused Seniors
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How Companies Can Deliver What the Doctor Ordered for Health-Focused Seniors

Many marketing conversations today focus on reaching younger demographics—those who are tech-savvy, have growing disposable incomes and love to entertain. But what some marketers continue to overlook is that these three characteristics are increasingly alive and well among older demographics. Seniors today are working longer than their parents. Among North America consumers, 41 percent plan to retire after the age of 65, and 21 percent even plan to extend retirement past age 70. And with steady wages, today’s mature consumers are living it up.

In order to work longer, however, seniors’ mental and physical capacity must be in top shape. As a result, many are focused on maintaining their health and wellness to extend their golden years as long as possible. So how can U.S. retailers and manufacturers capitalize on the growing and lucrative segment?

Senior’s Healthy Habits and Priorities

Older populations have stronger opinions with regard to nutritional choices compared to younger generations. Those 68 and older are the most likely of all ages to pay close attention to nutritional facts and to show corresponding dietary restrictions for themselves or someone in their household, perhaps due to a diagnosed need to follow specific dietary restrictions, such as low salt and sugar. In fact, across 11 top nutritional areas surveyed in a March 2014 Harris Poll, 73 percent of those over 68 say they monitor or restrict any of the areas versus the 60 percent average for the total population. And seniors restrict their sodium/salt and sugar consumption the most compared to the general population.

Given the vast majority of Americans (87%) who say they make an effort to eat healthfully, these generational divides suggest that actual implementation of change may stem more from necessity than knowledge.

Given this awareness, it’s no surprise older consumers are more likely to spend more on vitamins than other generations due to lifestyle changes from aging. However, today’s seniors aren’t just focused on health at the store. The oldest consumer segments are also big spenders in important categories including pet food, ice cream and wine. In fact, Greatest Generation wine-buying households spend 17 percent more annually on the wine category than the average wine buying household.

It’s What’s on the Outside that Counts

But despite older consumers’ nutritional awareness and over indexing in key categories, North American manufacturers, retailers and marketers can fill significant opportunity gaps by developing products that will resonate better with health-focused seniors. And many such opportunities start with packaging. In a recent global survey of aging consumers, between one-third and just under half of North American survey respondents said they find it difficult to locate clearly labeled nutritional information, smaller portion-sized food packaging and easy-to-open product packages. Also overlooked is product packaging designed for not-so-nimble hands or product labeling designed for less-than-perfect vision.  

Some manufacturers, retailers and marketers have made strides to improve packaging for senior needs. For example, some pharmacies are using large print on bottles, in-language labels, easy-to-open caps for those with arthritis and joint conditions and even talking prescription labels. However, most of these enhancements have been in the health and beauty area. Additional opportunities to better reach the senior segments exist in food and beverage. From larger font-size on package labels and vitamin/mineral-fortified foods developed for the older population, it’s time to consider details that matter to seniors.

For more insight into how to win with the growing and lucrative segment of health-focused seniors, download our full webinar presentation. And for additional information about global aging trends, download The Age Gap 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.