The population is aging. The group of people over 65 is increasing by huge numbers each year. Elderly people are buying more products for their even more
by Louis Feuer, MA, MSW

The population is aging. The group of people over 65 is increasing by huge numbers each year. Elderly people are buying more products for their even more elderly parents. Our retail stores will continue to focus on the needs of this older population. For most of us, that's what our business is all about!

If we are going to be “senior-sensitive,” we are going to have to understand this customer, the psychology of their purchases and what they want in terms of service and quality products.

Here are some insights from marketing experts. They tell us that:

Seniors do not think of themselves as old. They prefer marketing materials that relate to ensuring an active lifestyle.

  • They are interested in social activities, traveling and being mobile.

  • One study revealed that about 30 percent of seniors avoid buying products that negatively emphasize the stereotype of older people.

  • They also believe that the image of older people being set in their ways is both incorrect and misguided.

    Remember that all seniors do not end their lives living in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. Many live well and enjoy the finer things in life; adults aged 50+ own more than three-fourths of the nation's wealth.

    Consider these issues as well when selling to the senior market:

    Seniors are often afraid of the aging process. Most of the products we sell signify a change in lifestyle and independence. Some seniors may be looking at products they never thought they would need.

  • Seniors want to remain independent. Most want to age in their homes and are often very interested in products that allow them to do that. They want to be able to reach products on the shelf that may be hard to get to. They want to be able to sit down in the tub and get out easily. They want to be able to do things on their own, just as they did when they were younger.

  • Seniors want to avoid outliving their financial resources and are often fearful they will not have the finances to provide for their own care. This often means they purchase better products that do not need frequent repair. Seniors are after quality. They often buy the best and appreciate products that last. They want to use their finances wisely.

  • Seniors want to live in a save and secure environment. Many of the products we sell allow that to happen. Grab bars in the bathroom are just one example of those “safety” products that are valuable for almost every senior.

    What can we do to help our senior customers feel more secure about their purchases? You might want to:

    Provide product and educational materials they understand. Review your patient instructions to make sure customers can understand them. You may want to consider a larger type size, more pictures and easy directions.

  • Show respect, dignity and patience for your senior customer. Aging is a process none of us is looking forward to. You may have to repeat directions more than once or re-explain what documentation you need to process a claim.

  • Understand the shopping experience. Have you considered how people with walking aids or wheelchairs are able to navigate your store? Are products within reach? Is the floor or rug easy to walk on for those with ambulatory problems?

  • Establish your credibility. Let people know how long you have been in business. Make sure your clinical team shares with the customer their many years of experience. Seniors want to work with people who are experts in the field and can provide advice they can trust.

  • Take some time as well to look at your Web site. Make sure the print is easy to read and that the site can be navigated with ease.

  • Play the senior customer role. Can you read your store's signs? Does your store door open with ease? Can you locate items without asking a lot of questions?

    Remember, in time, you will be in the senior customer group (if you are not already). So from baby boomer to baby boomer — get “senior-sensitive” today.

    Louis Feuer is president of Dynamic Seminars & Consulting Inc. and the founder and director of the DSC Teleconference Series, a teleconference training program. He can be reached at or by phone at 954/435-8182.