Some of the key points about older Japanese (65 years and up) shoppers compared with younger counterparts:
- shop somewhat more often for food (225 times a year vs. 219);
- less often for alcohol (56 times a year vs. 67)
- less often for apparel (35 times vs. 48). less likely to consume ready-todrink beverages, such as canned coffee, soft drinks or bottled water, or to go to a convenience store.
About their habits:
- rise early in the morning and go to sleep early
- take baths, not showers
- own mobile phones and consumer electronics – but
- when they buy, they are more focused on price and ease of use
- for cosmetics, they prefer the neighborhood drug store and mail-order
- do not view shopping as entertainment.
Critically, and supportung our view on the increasing importance of older women as the key decision makers, ageing Japanese men in particular told McKinsey that they leave most of the shopping to their wives and generally no longer visit most stores at all.Other interesting learning from this research McKinsey identified from this exercise:
- (As SILVER has been saying for years) Traditional market research techniques are problematic with this group. In general, we found the 65 and over consumer to be more skeptical about marketers’ intentions, making it a challenge to use traditional interviewing techniques. Moreover, many of the people we interviewed simply could not hear or understand our questions accurately. And they were easily distracted. This suggests that techniques such as home visits and shop-alongs may yield better results than written questionnaires or focus groups.
- (As SILVER has pioneered with the globally unique SilverAudit tool/methodology). Think beyond the product itself. Many companies stress they are trying to develop products to meet the needs of the aging consumer. That’s fine, but not enough: It is also important to think about how the product is used, and even opened. For example, many of the older Japanese we talked to complained that instruction manuals were difficult to understand, with text that was too small. Packages need to be easy to open, and after-sales service is crucial.
- Grouping older consumers with the disabled is a huge mistake. Though aging consumers are different, many of their needs and values are not unique. More generally, a close look at the McKinsey survey shows a remarkable overlap between the responses from older Japanese and those of women in general, which indicates that strategies effective with women in some contexts might only need to be tweaked to target the senior set.
It’s gratifying to see that McKinsey’s research confirms so much of our thinking and principles on marketing to older customers.