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Friday, October 02, 2009

Kimberly-Clark and Walgreens try and understand the older consumer

It looks as if Walgreens, the US drugstores, is beginning to take the impact of the ageing population a bit more seriously.

This is taken from an article in the WSJ – sorry subscription

Some senior Walgreen executives have been getting a feel of what it is like shopping with poor eyesight and gloves that simulate arthritis. The program is run by Kimberly-Clark. How interesting that it a supplier of products that is taking the lead with this.

One of the changes that Walgreen intends to make is to install call buttons near heavy merchandise like bottled water and laundry detergent in some stores. It also will put magnifying glasses on store shelves and make its aisle signs clearer.

The WSJ makes a very strange statement: “Industries throughout Western Europe and Japan have been adjusting to accommodate aging populations” – not as far as I can see.

Lee Memorial Health System provides the kit of stuff that enables young people to see and feel the world as an elderly people perceive it. Cardboard glasses in the kits simulate common vision impairments including glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and yellowing of the eye lens. Large rubber gloves simulate the limited manual dexterity brought on by arthritis.

Kimberly-Clark introduced its elderly-shopper training for developers and marketers working on its Depend brand.

It appears that half a dozen retailers have participated in the program over the past two years.

Not surprisingly the guys at Walgreen found it difficult to read the small copy and that yellow labels disappeared against a bright yellow background and that many older shoppers couldn't distinguish between green and blue. Spending a few hours talking to older shoppers would have saved them going through this process. I guess there is nothing like experiencing it yourself to make it real.

Great to see a consumer goods company and retailer taking their older consumers seriously. Dick Stroud

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