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A.T. Kearney study sees big opportunity for retailers in aging consumers

Chicago -- Meeting the needs of aging consumers offers retailers and brand marketers a major opportunity going forward, according to a new study by global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Mature consumers form a worldwide market segment that spent $8 trillion in 2010 and will be spending $15 trillion annually by the end of this decade, the study estimated. Based on current worldwide demographic trajectories, in five years there will be more people over the age of 60 than under five; in 30 years, there will be more people over 60 than under 16.

Among the study’s findings: The mature consumer shops very differently from the younger generation. 

Although most retailers focus on speed and price competitiveness, mature consumers, who represent up to 30% in spending power, are more demanding on quality and services, and are less price sensitive. They also spend more time in stores.

“For retailers,” said James Morehouse, A.T. Kearney partner and VP, “aging may mean a paradigm shift in the design of stores and retail chains.”

According to Morehouse, mature consumers want personal attention from friendly, talkative cashiers, not speed. They also want smaller stores closer to home, and a clear, organized assortment with high-quality products at good prices, not unlimited choice of cheap, average-quality products or quantity-based promotions.

In another finding, the study found that the views of respondents seem to intensify, or to shift, after the age of 80.

“The over-80s are globally much more loyal to established brands, and less willing to spend money on products that offer health benefits or are considered ‘green,’”said Martin Walker, senior director of A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council. “After the age of 80, respondents are markedly more eager to have age-specific products and shopping environments tailored for them. It is almost as if 80 is the new point of self-definition for becoming old. If so, this represents a noticeable change from the traditional concept that old age begins at retirement.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

© 2014