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What does ‘Age Friendly’ mean for Your Business?

age friendly shopper

The term ‘Age Friendly’ has come into use to incorporate the full scope of personal characteristics within our life and in the communities that we live. The term extends beyond the physical parameters of age and also includes social and psychological aspects.

“Age Friendly means how do we start to develop policies and practices that enable us to adapt to demographic changes,” stated Barbara Douglas with the Newcastle, England Age Friendly program. Newcastle is implementing this program following the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly Cities initiative, with the understanding that our society is aging and we must adapt with it.

In the United States, groups like Agefriendly.org along with its Age-Friendly Institute, are working to provide guidance to cities, communities, businesses, and other services to allow for a welcoming environment for everyone – no matter their age.

How can this Age Friendly initiative impact your local retail business?

For local businesses, this will start at your ’front door’. Today’s retail businesses need to physically accommodate the baby stroller and wheel chair per ADA requirements.

. Restroom facilities must accommodate for these as well. These physical factors are mandated by public/government policy.

But, the age friendly initiative shouldn‘t stop with these requirements. This does not always take into account all aspects of ‘age friendly‘ – including capabilities, energy, and desires. And here are a couple of examples that we might point out for local retail businesses to inspire them –

But, the age friendly initiative shouldn‘t stop with these requirements. This does not always take into account all aspects of ‘age friendly‘ – including capabilities, energy, and desires. And here are a couple of examples that we might point out for local retail businesses to inspire them –

  • For starters, if you have a “Senior Discount” pricing option, consider different and fun ways to promote senior options. (see sample) Position it as a ‘Special Pricing for the Experienced Buyer” with a much smaller reference to the 60+ age requirement for example. (Make the younger gens jealous!)
  • Too many retail businesses (especially clothing stores) focus on the ‘expendable dollars’ of the younger generations and tend to make it uncomfortable for the older generations to shop for what they want. And, this is not because they won’t buy some of the clothes that younger generations wear. it might be that it is just not displayed in a way that shows them ‘how to wear them’ and ‘what they might look like’ in that particular garment. Consider ‘age’ in your diversified product images, because many of those older active adults want to be ‘in style’ and generally have more money to spend than the younger generation.
  • Not all 55+ individuals want to only mix/mingle with their 55+ peers. Many find the energy and vitality of younger generations invigorating… and that does not just mean their kids and grandkids. So, if your local business has hours for different ages, find out if there is interest in any overlapping time.
age friendly

How can this Age Friendly initiative impact your online business?

Did you know that there are ADA requirements for websites? Not everyone is aware that in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design, meaning that all electronic and information technology, like websites, to “those with disabilities, like vision impairment and hearing loss.“

Beyond the physical accommodations, many websites that market directly to a senior age audience might want to re-evaluate their site for some of these following issues.

  • First and foremost, consider your online ’voice’. Who are you speaking to? Is it the senior, a family member, or family member, or a care provider? Don’t assume that others are making buying decisions for seniors. And if your website is ‘speaking‘ to the wrong audience, it will cost you business.
  • Make sure that your website is modern and up-to-date. If you have not re-designed your website in the last five years, you can assume that your business website probably not mobile-friendly. And due to the increase in bandwidth availability, the trend in web design is bigger and bolder (which only helps for some seniors with vision issues).
  • As Gen X’ers join the 55+ group, they bring with them a greater comfort for using in-store pickup or home-delivery services when available, which the ‘Late Boomers’ share. (‘Late Boomers’ are generally those born in 1966-1964). But statistics show the First Boomers still like to shop in store. You want to make sure that you are serving both of their needs, as much as possible.
  • Getting found on internet search is still a mystery, but it is being driven more and more by user factors – relevant content, fast load times, etc. So, if you haven‘t added anything new to your website except new ecommerce items, you may want to look at developing a content strategy.

Why is ‘Age friendly’ Important for Your Business

As we have covered in previous articles, the 55+ population is one of the largest and wealthiest in our current global market. If your business caters to this segment (or if you want to expand your share of this segment) than it is important to see how you can make your product, services, and/or business more appealing to this audience.

And as with any demographic, the senior audience is not a monolith. Actually, we feel that this audience includes three major segments, with the very large span of the ‘Baby Boomer’s being viewed as two sub-groups.

‘First Boomers’ who were born between 1946 and 1954. This group of Boomers were old enough to have served in Vietnam, they enjoyed the ‘Summer of Love’ and Woodstock and entered corporate America relying upon mainframe computers.

Late Boomers’ who were born between 1955 and 1964. They came of age after the Vietnam draft era with a slightly different view of the world than the ‘First Boomers’. This group was still in their 30’s when the personal computer entered their office and/or their home.

And we can’t ignore the Gen X’ers who are quickly entering this segment. Many of them have built retirement funds that allow them to soon retire, if they haven’t already.

So there are many different ways to appeal to and attract this large audience. But that is true of any segment. The sad fact is that currently this segment represents only 5-10% of the advertising dollars today.

Contact the team at Senior Marketing Collective and let’s help you claim more of this growing market share.

“Seniors are not a monolith and do not buy the same way.”