Older Citizens Shopping Patterns

Shopping behavior: Most of the research on older citizens’ shopping patterns has been conducted in an exploratory manner with limited samples. Therefore the findings must be interpreted with caution. There are a number of helpful insights, however, emerging from expanded research on the topic. One national study on store choice or apparel found that the elderly generally base their patronage decisions on the same attributes as younger counterparts do. Another study of elderly shoppers indicates that there are sub segments who can be identified by unique shopping orientations. Older consumers are active shoppers and the men and women are significantly more likely than younger consumers to shop together and to make joint buying decisions for everything from everyday convenience goods to expensive durables. They tend to shop more often than younger consumers in department stores, but less often in discount stores, perhaps because of factors related to shopping enjoyment. Part of their enjoyment in shopping is the recreational and social justification involved, although some research indicates that they shop less and enjoy their shopping less than younger age groups.

Older consumers shop near their residences since many lack personal transportation. In addition, substantial store loyalty has been exhibited by this group with regard to low cost items or products about which the store owner may give advice (such as drugs and medicines) Store loyalty disappears as unit value or an item increase and frequency of purchase decreases (such as when shopping for appliances). Greater store loyalty, however is exhibited by senior citizens at higher income and age levels.

Some of this country’s important retail institutions such as shopping centers and supermarkets have features that make them quite attractive to older shoppers. The generally favorable prices and the sale, comfortable atmosphere of these stores contribute to their appeal. At the same time however, other features of these institutions inhibit older consumers and prevent them from taking advantage of the stores. First, they are generally located away from older neighborhoods where many aged and most poor live. Moreover, the right merchandise assortment to satisfy the needs of older consumers frequently cannot be found. For these and other reasons, such retail institutions have not adequately met the needs of senior citizens. There is evidence that retailers that retailers do not fully understand these needs and place greater emphasis on profit related factors, while convenience and product related aspects are desired by elderly consumers. A survey by Johnson & Johnson identified four broad suggestions older persons have for retailers to reach this market: (1) make shopping easier; (2) make them feel important; (3) make shopping more interesting and (4) help them obtain good value for their money. One retailer has long been concerned about this segment.

Publix super Markets Inc. is a Florida chain that makes shopping easier for the elderly. They do this by placing benches in front of their stores, providing restrooms, and teaching employees how to make things easier for the elderly, such as giving customer to light bags during checkout instead of a single heavy one.

Promoting to the Older Market:
Even developing the right product and getting it to the right place is no guarantee of success among older consumers. It must also be matched with the proper promotion. Marketers who have succeeded in this market have done so largely because of effective promotion.

Media patterns: The marketers must select appropriate media for promoting to the senior citizen market. There are some difficulties, however, when effectively segmenting the senior citizen market by media. Television programming for instance, is largely youth oriented. Nevertheless viewer ship by older consumers is above average during certain times of the day. Television viewer ship for those aged 55 to 64 is heaviest between 7 and 10 am and 5 and 11 pm and for those 65 and appealing to older adults is the mainstay for the television advertiser. New avenues for reaching older consumers are also opening up.