Senior Consumers: Understanding key trends driving consumer behaviors

Senior Consumers: Understanding key trends driving consumer behaviors


Much has been made of young generations such as millennials setting new consumer trends and how companies should respond, but in reality, there are perhaps better opportunities available to target older generations then younger ones. Consumers over the age of 55 at present have been shown to be more tech savvy than ever, more online and increasingly looking for leisure and entertainment opportunities.

When these factors are combined with the fact that they are more likely to own property than any other group, have more liquid capital than any other and are increasingly less likely to save inheritance for younger generations. There are opportunities arising in a number of product areas, including technology, property and housing, marketing, financial products and holidays and leisure. Many companies have yet to realize that they actually have an ideal product for senior consumers already but are failing to maximize the opportunity due to not properly targeting this consumer group.

Key Highlights

  • Partly as a result of lucrative pensions, house prices, low retirement ages and squeezed incomes for working age people, the ‘gray dollar’ has come to dominate the travel and tourism market across much of the developed world. Yet the influence of the gray dollar may eventually wane due to shifting demographics. For the meantime, the share of money spent on holiday and leisure by senior consumers exceeds that of any sub-group of working age people. Various factors can be held responsible. With companies such as Saga prospering due to success in courting older consumers, companies must now cater for that part of the demographic to prosper.
  • Dubbed the ‘gray dollar’, seniors in society have long been known to possess extensive spending power - more per capita than younger generations have on tap - yet much of the consumer society focuses upon the desires of millennials and the emerging ‘generation z’. Many businesses have so far proven themselves to be largely insouciant towards the commercial opportunities available through appealing to the over-65-year-old age group. Several reasons can be cited to explain this trend - the relative slipperiness of seniors due to divergent sub-groups being one. Now, however, there are signs of change. Major brands are increasingly marketing products towards retirees, adjusting store design and tailoring products to their needs.
  • The last few decades have seen phenomenal rises in real estate prices, as much as 18% over the last ten years in the UK, and the age groups that have most gained from this process are those which are already on the property ladder. Older generations have been able to accumulate significant new wealth as a result. This has allowed older generations much more spending power in many ways, through releasing home equity and downsizing to produce some significant gains in capital. Coupled with this, seniors are active in the second property and holiday home industries, many having significantly more buying power than many younger buyers. This trend is actually strengthening and older buyers control more of the global property market than ever before and younger generations are buying much less.
  • Examine just why senior consumers are such a valuable customer group
  • See the progress made by some companies in targeting this demographic
  • Explore the opportunites available and how the group is changing in nature
  • See what the risks are to this group and how their lifestyle might be effected
Reasons to buy
  • Why has this generation got so much spending power over the millennial generation?
  • How can they be better targeted with products and advertising campaigns?
  • What products really suit the senior age group?
  • What holiday, property, technology and retirement products does this group favour?

Executive Summary
Grey dollar controls holiday and leisure markets, but it may not dominate forever
Businesses have yet to appeal to the ‘grey dollar’ - times may be about to change
Property & assets are increasingly owned by older generations
Retirement Plans: Looking for leisure in old age and managing finances
Seniors are far more tech literate and want tech solutions
Grey dollar controls holiday and leisure markets, but it may not dominate forever
Seniors are the most valuable customer group, far exceeding their numerical size
Government regulatory changes are helping to boost the power of the grey dollar in vacations
‘Grey dollar’ is becoming harder to win due to immediate economic circumstances
Rising number of seniors across the world is driving expansion of international travel and tourism market
Older consumers in the United States have particularly high influence upon vacation market
Whilst the ‘grey dollar’ is courted now, that may change with time
Businessess have yet to appeal to the ‘grey dollar’ - times may be about to change
Major retail brands are increasingly appealing to older consumers, but doing so is not without challenge
Appealing to desires of senior consumers, rather than age, will unlock spending potential
Focusing upon age does not help companies access the ‘grey dollar’
Marketing to seniors needs to be matched in product development and the retail environment
Property & assets are increasingly owned by older generations
In the UK in particular, seniors own a great deal of property
Equity release industry is becoming big business
Second properties are becoming increasingly common with older generations
As many nations age, it is wise to focus property construction on seniors
Senior property market is developing but much more can be done
Retirement Plans: preparing for old age and managing finances
Dementia has no cure and is absorbing social care budgets
Implementing solutions to pensions crises is tough but necessary
Innovative pension products are beginning to form that could help senior consumers be more affluent
The Pension Dashboard scheme could help to keep senior consumers more knowledgeable and affluent
Many pension companies are trying to put their products in better software forms
Robo advice could be a solution to avoid large fees from a financial advisor
Seniors are far more tech literate and want tech solutions
Communication technology designed for over 65-year olds is a growth industry
Many of the latest devices are perfect for seniors, but not marketed as such
There are more apps for older consumers than ever before
New alert technology allows elderly people to stay at home, keeping many out of care systems
Internet of things is changing how care is delivered to an aging population
Remotely taking doctors into homes: technology streamlines treatment of elderly patients
Mobility presents growing business opportunities for innovation
Some companies are beginning to recognize the opportunities
Key Findings
Further Reading
Millennial Consumers: Understanding key trends driving consumer behaviors, (2018) MarketLine Theme Report
Ask the analyst
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List of Figures
Figure 1: UK travel and tourism market value ($bn) 2010-2017 8
Figure 2: George Osbourne, Budget announcement 2014 9
Figure 3: Millions of Chinese citizens aged 65-years and over, 2000-2016 11
Figure 4: Millions of UK citizens aged 65 and over, 2000-2016 12
Figure 5: Helen Mirren, L’Oréal advert 14
Figure 6: Daphne Selfe, Drapers 15
Figure 7: Saga ‘Keep Doing’ campaign 17
Figure 8: Ford ‘third age suit’ 18
Figure 9: Percentage of age group that owns property in UK 19
Figure 10: Price to earnings ratio UK, annual median salaries new and existing property 1997-2017 20
Figure 11: Total UK property ownership by age group 21
Figure 12: Median value of assets for household by age 2017,$ 22
Figure 13: Moving concerns of over-55s 23
Figure 14: McCarthy and Stone retirement property options 24
Figure 15: Total UK weekly spend on recreation and food & drink by age group 2017 ($) 25
Figure 16: UK spending on dementia care by source 2015 ($bn) 26
Figure 17: Population over 65 estimates by 2050, key countries 28
Figure 18: UK’s Pension Dashboard Project 29
Figure 19: Standard Life online servicing 30
Figure 20: Percentage of recent internet users by age UK 2011-2016 31
Figure 21: Apple i-watch SOS function 32
Figure 22: Apple i-watch SOS function 34
Figure 23: Specialized Turbo Vado e-bike 36
Figure 24: Specialized advertisement for the Turbo e-bike 37

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