01 December 2015
About 10,000 Baby Boomers have been turning 65 every day since 2011, and when the last turn in 2030, they will account for almost 20 percent of American consumers, notes Pew Research Center. Learning the specialized needs, desires and limitations of this demographic now can help food and beverage producers connect with this graying population, which research shows is feeling neglected by the food and beverage market.

joint survey by Google and Nielsen indicates about 80 percent of this cohort think marketing efforts target younger people, leaving them behind. This is a significant oversight; figures from Baby Boomer Magazine show the group holds 70 percent of the country’s total wealth (an estimated $7 trillion) and accounts for 40 percent of U.S. consumer demand—and with the segment growing every day, that’s a lot of money for food and beverage companies to leave on the table.

To reach this powerful and growing consumer segment, producers and brand owners should take a close look at this generation and target their distinctive needs. To do so, note the following points:

Handle With Care. Aging hands have increased difficulty in grasping, twisting, flipping and executing other actions required to interact with food and beverage packaging. Packaging frustration is not exclusive to the Baby Boomer demographic, but arthritis, tremors, decreased hand strength and other issues complicate matters.

Food and beverage packaging can aid senior consumers in dealing with their dexterity challenges by delivering features that make containers easier to handle. Smaller packages, for example, can be easier to grasp than huge, multi-serving packages (and fit the needs of smaller empty-nester households to boot). Packages with built-in grips, tapered necks or other shape features that facilitate gripping and holding also can help. Closures and caps that are larger and easy to grip also are kinder to Baby Boomer hands.

The Eyes Have It. As people age, their eyesight falters—so much so that while people over 65 comprise only about 13 percent of the total population, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control research tells us, they account for 30 percent of all visually impaired Americans. Anticipating this vulnerability in the demographic can help food and beverage companies better reach them and their shopping dollars.

Just as large-print publications are inviting to seniors, packaging with easy-to-read elements is friendly to aging Baby Boomer eyes and can increase the likelihood these shoppers will pick the packages off the shelf, scan and locate on-pack messaging (without having to put on their reading glasses) and put the product in their carts. Producers should consider sized-up letters, broader panels that can handle the beefed-up type, brighter colors and other packaging features that Baby Boomers can spot more easily.

Getting Personal. Baby Boomer consumers differ from younger generations in nutrition and ingredient concerns. High blood pressure can motivate them to seek out low-sodium foods; diabetes puts them on the lookout for reduced-sugar items; and heart worries make low-fat formulations desirable. They frequently avoid sodium, fat and other ingredients on doctors’ orders, or look for healthful foods to aid in weight-loss efforts.

This heightened awareness of nutritional attributes in their food and beverage items makes clear, present labeling on packaging crucial. Additionally, nutritional concerns also fit with seniors’ fondness for online shopping. Peapod and other delivery services help conquer seniors’ dexterity challenges by bringing groceries to them, but searching on the Internet via shopping and brand sites can put the nutrition and ingredient data they seek at their fingertips.

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