The shopping behaviour of the so-called perfect agers is characterised by consumerism, loyalty to a shopping centre, brand awareness and the desire for advice and information.
By Peter Brügmann, Zurich
The older target groups over 50 are particularly open to campaigns at the point of sale (POS). These are some of the results of an extensive empirical study by the Institute for Trade Research at the University of Cologne (IfH), in which the author of this article contributed. Within the scope of the study, 1,370 seniors aged between 50 and 89 years were asked about their consumption and purchasing behaviour, with a special focus on the food, cosmetics/personal care and automotive industries.
The initial situation
By 2030, every third German citizen will be over 60 years old. But it is not only the increasing proportion of the population that makes Perfect Agers interesting, but also their purchasing power. They have an above-average income. Up to now, companies and especially retailers have often neglected or insufficiently addressed the needs of this target group. One mistake: Because the Perfect Ager buy brand and quality-conscious and spend around 100 euros per week on food alone.
To address Perfect Ager correctly, you need to know its values and settings: Honesty, reliability and trust play an important role in the world of seniors. At the same time, they are often open to new experiences. Compared to their parents' generation, the Perfect Ager appear more affluent, mobile, enjoyment-oriented and active. Most of them feel significantly younger than they are purely biological. The subjectively experienced "feel-age" is therefore a decisive factor for the speech. The majority of perfect agers do not want to be addressed as "old".
Perfect Ager have a high demand for information. Reading television and newspapers are among the top jobs on a regular basis. This need for information is also evident when shopping, another very popular activity of Perfect Agers. More than one in three respondents (37%) are happy to take advice when shopping. And with increasing age the desire for comprehensive advice increases (consent 60-69: 43%, 70-79: 43%, 80-89: 47%). In short: The better the shopping advice, the greater the chance of turnover with Perfect Agern.
Brand loyalty is closely linked to this target group. On average, 31.9% of all respondents stick with the brands they are familiar with. The respondents also proved to be loyal to the shopping venues. 41% prefer to go into businesses they know well. The older Perfect Ager models in particular prefer tried-and-tested shopping locations. In general, respondents prefer shops with a wider choice of products in a central location. They can do their errands without having to travel long distances and combine them with leisure activities such as visiting a café.
The results in the individual sectors
The purchase of food makes up the majority of Perfect Agern's errands. More than two thirds buy food several times a week, 8.5% even daily. And one in four spends more than 100 euros per week. The Perfect Ager are very price-conscious: over 50% mostly opt for special offers. 42% of respondents shop in shops that advertise at permanently low or permanently low prices. Nevertheless, brands have a good reputation with Perfect Agern, especially among the older ones. While only 15.1% of respondents between 50 and 59 years describe themselves as loyal to the brand, in the group of 80 to 89 year-olds it is almost two thirds.
When cooking, the target group proves to be very quality-conscious. Around 70% of households mainly use fresh ingredients, the majority of those surveyed reject ready meals.
Aldi occupies the top position among the most popular shops. The discounter (21.4%) is clearly in first place ahead of Rewe (11.4%) and Edeka (10.5%). Once you have won customers, you can look forward to a loyal clientele. Around 60% almost always buy their food in the same shop. 57.8% of respondents prefer a larger business with an extensive assortment.
When buying food, Perfect Ager consider detailed advice to be of little relevance on average. Only 17% require detailed information at the point of sale. However, the desire for counselling within the subgroups examined sometimes differs considerably. While in the group of 50- to 59-year-olds only 10.2% use tips from the salesperson, in the oldest target group it is almost one in two (44.4%).
Cosmetics / Body Care
Even in old age, seniors pay great attention to their appearance. Almost half of them (48%) spend an average of over 30 euros per month on personal care products, 27% even more than 45 euros. The drugstore chains dm and Schlecker are well ahead of the most popular cosmetics stores. The loyalty of shopping establishments is very high here; around 64% almost always buy their personal care products in the same shop. A total of 45.9% describe themselves as brand loyal when it comes to the purchase of personal care products. This value increases with age (approval 50-59: 40.2%, 80-89: 73.3%). However, almost one in two (47%) often buy special offers. This shows that the trend towards "smart shopping" also prevails among seniors.
43% make sure that only products of natural origin are put in the shopping bag. Innovations are open to seniors, one in five like to try out cosmetics that are new to the market.
The desire for advice in the cosmetics sector is significantly higher than for food (25.1%), and tends to increase with increasing age (50-59: 22.6%, 80-89: 30.8%). More than one in two respondents (54%) prefer to buy their personal care products in larger shops with a wide selection. Only around 14% prefer smaller businesses.
Senior citizens are an extremely interesting target group for the automotive industry. Because when buying a car, price plays a subordinate role. More than half are prepared to pay more than 20,000 euros for a new car. First on the wish list is Mercedes, followed by Opel and VW. On the actual purchase, however, VW is at the top, Opel and Mercedes follow in second and third place.
65% get intensive advice from the car dealer when buying a car. More than every second person reads test reports (52.7%) and even every fifth of the 80 to 89 year-olds (21%) does research on the Internet before buying a car. More than two thirds (68%) pay attention to the technical equipment of the car when buying a car and are prepared to pay a higher amount for it.
There are great opportunities for automobile manufacturers when it comes to customer loyalty: every second Perfect Ager proves to be loyal to the brand when buying a new car and would acquire the same brand again.
Service is considered very important: 81% of those surveyed demand extensive services from their dealer. In return, however, they are also loyal to their dealers - over half of the target group only have their cars serviced and repaired in authorised garages. This offers high opportunities for customer loyalty measures.
Despite their increasing share of the total population, their brand awareness and their purchasing power, Perfect Ager are a target group that is often neglected by industry and trade. Perfect Ager could be more successfully addressed by simple and targeted measures, for example in store and product design as well as in the composition of the product range.
The older target groups are price-conscious, but also quality-oriented. For example, they prefer fresh produce for foodstuffs, they like to try out innovations for cosmetics, and when buying a car they are prepared to put higher amounts on the table.
The desire for more services is great. Especially sales promotion measures at the POS should be expanded for Perfect Ager. Especially in premium segments the desire for personal advice is very high. Variety and entertainment elements when shopping also meet the interests of this target group.
Perfect Ager only like to shop where they feel comfortable. A pleasant shopping atmosphere is therefore indispensable. This includes clean, clear shop spaces, good product quality and consideration of environmental aspects.
"Perfect Ager combine purchasing power and buying power, but you have to address them specifically and according to their interests. The POS plays a special role in communication, as it can satisfy the need of perfect agers for information and entertainment in equal measure. The study clearly shows that considerable sales potential can still be activated with the older target group. The earlier companies act here, the greater the effect will be.