KEEP IT FRIENDLY

Since shopping is a social activity for many older consumers, grocery retailers have a good opportunity to capture the large disposable income of the 50-plus segment.ife, an Orange, Calif.-based marketing company that specializes in marketing to the mature.The 50-plus population currently accounts for some 40% of all consumer spending and is the fastest-growing consumer group, according to Primelife.

Since shopping is a social activity for many older consumers, grocery retailers have a good opportunity to capture the large disposable income of the 50-plus segment.

ife, an Orange, Calif.-based marketing company that specializes in marketing to the mature.

The 50-plus population currently accounts for some 40% of all consumer spending and is the fastest-growing consumer group, according to Primelife. So making the shopping experience a little easier and a little more fun can make the shopper happy and reap sales benefits for supermarkets.

Primelife offers several tips on how retailers can adapt stores to meet the needs of this important consumer group:

Offer special promotions, such as "early bird" shopping specials, or create theme days.

Merchandise items frequently purchased by older customers on lower shelves for easier access.

Make the pharmacy waiting area comfortable and provide easy-to-read literature.

Make product comparisons easy. Keep point-of-purchase displays and advertisements simple.

Make signs large and use bold-face type, so the signs are readable.

Keep aisles clear and uncluttered.

Consider playing big band, oldies or classical background music during the morning hours when more mature consumers tend to shop.

Hire mature people in sales and customer-service positions. Mature shoppers can relate to these people and often are more comfortable asking them for assistance.

Clearly mark restrooms.

Consider offering your store for meetings and social activities attended by mature consumers. These activities will help introduce your store to them.

Provide small shopping carts in addition to regular-sized carts. Some mature shoppers use them for support.

Hold "sensitivity training" sessions for employees. Understanding the possible physical, psychological and social needs of mature shoppers can enable salespeople to relate to them better.