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NEW YORK — The "Silver Generation," considered adults aged 60 and older, could provide a golden opportunity for convenience store retailers.
According to a new report from the Fung Global Retail & Technology research team, The Silver Wave: Understanding the Aging Consumer, this generation will drive more than 45 percent of consumption growth in North America. But Deborah Weinswig, managing director of New York-based Fung Global, cautioned that retailers must adapt to changing consumer wants and needs on both a macro and micro level to capitalize on this trend.
"In the retail industry, we see silvers' demand for convenience and need for assistance contributing to a remolding of the retail landscape. We will see more smaller-format and local shops, along with greater demand for home delivery via e-commerce," she said.
The number of people aged 65-plus will grow from 8 percent of the world's population in 2015 to 13 percent in 2035. Perhaps more important is that this older demographic is projected to grow more than 4.5 times faster than the non-senior population during the next 25 years, according to United Nations data.
To be most successful with silvers, Weinswig recommends retailers not paint those in the 65-to-74 age group with the same brush as those aged 85-plus. These demographics vary widely in spending habits.
"These days, people in the younger silver set behave much like their younger selves. They are fairly healthy, many are still working and their attitudes have not changed yet," Weinswig wrote in the report. "But by the time silvers turn 85, their health typically has deteriorated significantly, and their attitudes and spending habits reflect that change."
She noted this trend can benefit c-store operators, in particular, as local convenience is important to silvers.
"Demand for local convenience is likely to extend beyond the grocery sector. We expect growth in the silver population to boost demand for proximity shopping in health and beauty categories, and possibly filter through to other nonfood sectors such as household goods and apparel, too," Weinswig explained. "So, we expect to see a rise in proximity retailing that specifically targets senior consumers, particularly in neighborhoods that are largely populated by seniors or that include senior housing communities."
Retailers should make smaller-scale adjustments to cater to aging customer bases, Weinswig said, such as ensuring products aimed at seniors are not located on low or high shelves. Packaging needs to be easy to open, with labels easy to read, too.
"These changes may not be very apparent to most shoppers, but are noticed and appreciated by those they are designed to help," she said. "In the coming years, we are likely to see many other retailers make similar incremental changes to their stores in order to better serve the silver segment."
The full report, The Silver Wave: Understanding the Aging Consumer, can be found here.
The Fung Global Retail & Technology research team is a global thinktank that follows emerging retail and technology trends.