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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Are retailers getting the message about older shoppers being important


If you have access to the FT online then you should read this article that gives some great examples of how a few companies are attempting to come to terms with older shoppers.

In Japan, in Chiba, just outside Tokyo, there is a new mall designed to cater for older people.

“These are the wealthiest, most active, healthiest and longest-living retirement generation in the history of the world,” says the chief strategy officer at Aeon, Japan’s largest supermarket group, which opened the specially designed Chiba mall.

There are some good examples of what Nestle is trying to achieve and the approach of Unilever. I was not surprised to see that Unilever sees no need to ‘invent’ foods. 4-5 years back I presented to the senior marketers at Unilever and the feeling I came away with can be summed up in one word - smug.

“As people get older their taste buds start going, so, in the US, Mexican food is doing well, not just among the Hispanic community,” says the company’s director of customer relations -  “Older people want spicier tastes.” I am pleased to see that Unilever thinks that is more to this ageing thing than spices and wrinkle-busting cream. Mr customer relations then says - “Easy to open packaging is key” - “We have a lot of work to do on this. It is all a new area for us, it’s a new area for the whole industry.”

You can say that again!

Believe me, most fmcg companies haven’t got off the first page in understanding the impact ageing on how their very important older customers will behave. Contact Dick Stroud or Kim Walker if they want to know what is on page 100 and 250!

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