By the end of 2017, almost a quarter of everyone on the planet will be over the age of 50. This represents a huge opportunity for retailers but they must be wise, particularly in regard to their packaging choices, if they want to engage this demographic.
It is vital that retailers consider how they can connect with older consumers without appearing patronising. It's a broad and diverse demographic which encompasses extremely active over 50s, some who are slowing down in their 70s plus octogenarians and beyond.
Ageing is an inevitable part of life so why aren’t more companies celebrating it? Advertising for this demographic is sparse, and even when it does appear it tends to be stereotypical. A few brands, however, have set the bar high with timely, impactful campaigns focussed on positive ageing.
For example, L’Oréal’s work starring Helen Mirren is inspirational and has driven sales for its Age Perfect range. Similarly, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, which is now well into its teenage years, challenged assumptions when it first captured our imaginations. The strapline “real types not stereotypes” has prompted many conversations on what beauty means, as well as the development of Dove’s speciality Pro Age range. The narrative for this sub-brand is written into the name: Be in favour of later life, don’t apologise for it.
Online as well as instore
Retirement is the boon of old age. Having worked for years to save up a pension, many older consumers are looking for exciting ways to spend their hard-earned cash to enjoy these years. What many people don’t realise is that this isn’t limited to the high street. More people in later years are using the internet than ever before.
According to research by the Future Company, 60 per cent of people over 50 globally have bought something online, compared to 51 per cent of 16 to 34-year-olds and 56 per cent of 35 to 49-year-olds. What does this mean for retailers with an online offer? Packaging for home deliveries must work as easily and effectively as it does for products bought in store.
Quality packaging that connects
The ageing global population provides a real opportunity for retailers but mistakes when it comes to packaging can be highly off-putting. Research has found that shoppers in this demographic are often more exacting and conscientious, and their purchasing choices may reflect sustainable values. They may also have little patience for flash in the pan marketing stunts.
The focus for retailers must therefore be on quality product and customer experience at all stages of the buying process. Higher value aesthetics when it comes to packaging are a worthwhile investment and brands should consider matching luxury look and feel with a sustainable, 100% recycled board option.
Ageing can bring with it a change in pace and sometimes a reduction in strength and stamina. Hearing and vision loss are also common side effects of the ageing process, with most people reaching for reading glasses by the age of 40 and more than 70% of over 70 year olds and 40% of over 50 year olds experiencing some kind of hearing loss. These combine to make certain things more difficult, for example opening poorly designed packaging.
Research by the University of Portsmouth in the UK has revealed that ageing-related changes such as arthritis, deteriorating eyesight and physical strength made consumers more at risk of experiencing vulnerability when buying packaged consumables in particular.
Ensuring packaging is easy to use and improving accessibility can be tricky. Simply making fonts bigger is patronising, so the solution needs to be subtle – shortening copy, for example, and using bolder, easier to read styles.
Weaker grip, poorer vision and lower dexterity, issues that older consumers often wrestle with, can combine to make the use of some forms of packaging more difficult. Being unable to prise open a parcel that has arrived through the post or being unable to read the product details on the supermarket shelf is unacceptable. Examples of poor packaging have been known to cause rants on social media, heated discussions with friends and ultimately a decision not to use a particular brand again.
All packaging, both primary and secondary, should be developed to be age neutral. Inclusive design is a must. In an age when competition is fiercer than ever, to lose a customer because of a poor packaging decision is simply unacceptable.
By Mette Herrefoss, Marketing & Impact Centre Manager at DS Smith