The Population of Germany decreases and at the same time there is a generation growing who is too young for the aged and too old for the light-hearted youth. It is time that commerce and industry take this target group seriously. By the integration of this generation there could be comfort and convenience as the essential factors.
They are not young anymore, they are not hip and they will not be canvassed anymore: The “young aged”. By an age of 55 or 60 years they are retired and still have 20 more active years ahead of them. They do not want to be seniors and the name “Generation plus” which is used by the neuroscientist Prof. Dr. Ernst Pöppel, does not really sound appropriate to them. But what do you say to the “100-billionen- Euro-Generation” instead? That definitely sounds much more flattering and definitely matches their financial potential. Since that is the amount which the generation of over 50 years of age dispose each year according to the Nürnberger Society of Consumer Research. But it seems like no one aims for this money. “The industry and retail industry totally ignore this target group – actually a scandal”, says Scientist Pöppel. The 66 years old neuroscientist manages the Generation-Research-Program of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich in Bad Tölz and criticises the general focus on the youth. “
“The economy is missing a large potential of the consumption-orientated consumers by being concerned that they will be associated with this unattractive segment of the generation plus.”
In reality it is amazing how few people are considered of the financial potential, in so far as the stores design and the product range is concerned. Maybe because young store designers and interior designers love cool “Chill-out-Lounges” or “Not-a-piece-too-much” interiors and only think of their own generation. And they think a cloth range in the colour of beige is enough for the aged.
The success of this strategy is that the parent’s generation is avoiding stores with lounges – knowing well that those deep cosy armchairs cut off a dignified stand up for the over 40 year olds.
Even still feeling young, intervertebral discs; back or knees are not the same anymore as by an age of 20. One does not need a break, but a little rest; pardon an Espresso-break in between is welcomed. And if a little silver pin is the only hook in the dressing room one rather resign the fitting - and the purchase.
And if you consider how few things are actually needed to design an appropriate store for all generations, is the present situation in most of the stores, which is hard to follow. Every experienced store designer knows that the aged measure the quality of the shopping experience by their feeling of comfort. The bases for that is the more solid cushions, higher located seats, hooks and space for bags; these are things which can be easily realized.
Comfort is the connectional element between the generations – no one would avoid a store just because it is arranged comfortable, but if the comfort equals rather the charm of a sanitary home - then only new design ideas are necessary.
A retirement mall would be insolvent by opening, since no one likes to be old on one hand, but everyone expects that the mental state of elderly people is being considered on the other hand.
Malls have a lot of chances to offer a “get-together” for the customer and therefore the mall becomes a social meeting point. Not only would seniors appreciate things like that, but also young families or mothers with small children. They would also appreciate a wider aisle and intelligently presented product ranges.
Additional services like delivery service for the purchases could support the thought of comfort intermediate-term, even though the present “generation plus” is not yet used to those supports. Especially because the increasing internet trade earns enormously from the comfort of choosing the items from home and getting it delivered right away.
The stationary retail trade is only able to refer to that which is sensual and inspiring a comfortable shopping experience. A good additional aspect is that one is able to prove and compare the product with all the senses and that one can take that purchase home right away or it was delivered just-in-time.
Also, it would be interesting to develop a product range for the senior generation in the future. Most of them already have had an active and mobile period of time and would like to be provided with adequate products in future as well. Supportive functional clothing that is breathable and maybe odourless could become a fast seller – and not just in beige or olive. Out of pure nostalgia brands from the baby-boomer could be honoured again and as well as technical products, which do not primary focus on their functional variety - and often overburden the youth - but rather of a good usability and clear structured functions.
This is where the neuroscientist Ernst Pöppel sees the importance of the industry. “30% of the companies asking themselves if the “generation plus” generally presents a market for them”, says the Professor. Out of a cooperation with Far East, e.g. with Honda, does he know “that the Japanese are thinking much further and are developing user friendly cars - with focus on the elderly generation.” Right now it is rather purblind to ignore the seniors as consumers, but it could be fatal for the intermediate-term: by 2050 every second German will be above 50 years, according to the Federal Office of statistics.
An article of Wolfgang Gruschwitz