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Are food marketers missing a trick? (Hint: over 65s like yogurt and protein bars too)

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By Elaine Watson+

Last updated on 23-Jun-2014 at 01:31 GMT

IRI: “Older consumers are not really adopting some of the foods and beverages you would think are an ideal fit to address their needs.”
IRI: “Older consumers are not really adopting some of the foods and beverages you would think are an ideal fit to address their needs.”

The number of Americans aged 65+ will double in the next 25 years. But manufacturers of products that could have strong appeal to this demographic (Greek yogurt, protein bars) are not doing enough to target them, says IRI.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after launching a new report on ‘Aging America’ (click HERE ), Susan Viamari, editor of Thought Leadership at IRI, said: “I think marketers are missing a huge opportunity.

“Products like Greek yogurt and protein bars are typically marketed to younger and middle-aged people, and if you only see pictures of people that don’t look like you in ads, you think, this product is not for me. It’s what used to happen with ethnic groups [where Hispanic, African American and other consumer groups were bombarded with ads for products promoted almost exclusively by white people].”

Boomers are not really adopting some of the foods you would think are an ideal fit to address their needs

As for messaging, meanwhile, stories around protein - the hot macronutrient of the moment - can be tailored to older consumers (‘active living’ etc) without resorting to medical-sounding claims about tackling muscle wastage, she pointed out.

But the fact that older consumers are more immediately concerned about cholesterol, joint pain and other health conditions than younger people, but still don’t buy as many functional foods and beverages, suggests marketers are struggling to get their message across to this age group, she said.

Older consumers are showing a more proactive way of living but they are not really adopting some of the foods and beverages you would think are an ideal fit to address their needs.”

Nearly 71% of boomers and 59% of seniors regularly visit social networking sites  

Drugstores are probably doing the best job at engaging over 65s with programs such as wellness65+ (Rite Aid) which offers seniors special services and discounts, and Savings Day (Walgreens) a day when qualifying seniors save 20% off some private label lines and 15% off many others, said Viamari.

As for media, while older consumers still rely heavily on circulars, coupons and signs in stores when making brand decisions, marketers should not rule out digital media, she said.

“Nearly 71% of boomers [aged 50-68] and 59% of seniors [aged 69-89] visit social networking sites on a daily basis,” and the trend is only going in one direction, she said, as generations that are more tech savvy start to age.

Prevention, prevention, prevention

By 2020, annual CPG spending by boomers and seniors will surpass $230bn, says the IRI report - Aging America: Carving Out Growth in Mature Markets, which has several tips about how firms can ensure they get a bigger slice of the ‘silver’ action, including:

1 - Start evangelizing about prevention as a first line of defense against chronic disease

Look across—even outside—traditional CPG aisles to understand new technologies, ingredients and products that support a healthier lifestyle, and how these can be wrapped into your existing or emerging product portfolio.

Pinpoint white-space innovation opportunities by dissecting how target shoppers define their needs and wants in your category as well as categories that they view as substitutes to your category.

2 - Build marketing strategies that reflect a fuller appreciation of the diversity in the boomer and senior marketplace

Identify unique growth opportunities through the use of micro-segmentation, and create planograms and promotional programs to match.

3 - Build loyalty from your best shoppers and run media programs that reflect an understanding of each consumer’s unique path to purchase

Invest to understand different groups of people who share common attitudes and behaviors and create comprehensive segments for highly efficient targeting.

To download the report, click HERE to register for free.

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