How age-friendly is your business?

The first thoughts that come to mind when many people hear the words “senior” or “50+” are: frail, slow moving, hard of hearing, or “retiree.”

These preconceived ideas shift the tone, service and interaction the moment a mature individual enters a business environment. Unfortunately, this approach creates an unwelcoming experience and leaves many 50+ consumers offended.

Boomers and seniors represent almost half of our population (Stat Canada) and controls 77-80% of all the wealth in Canada (CARP),yet this generation has remained largely unaddressed by businesses.

This article was published by The Vancouver Sun on August 15th, 2013.  To see this article and other related articles on The Vancouver Sun website, please click here

While many companies focus on wooing the younger cohort, there is a new wave of businesses that know that opening the wallets of the 50+ group starts with valuing the individual.

Product is key, but consumer experience is gold The real currency in business is experience. Many companies focus on having a great product, but a memorable experience is what keeps customers coming through the door.A recent Ipso Reid poll showed that while Boomers acknowledge their significant spending power,40% feel ignored by the businesses that serve them.

Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach Susan Eng, VP of Advocacy for CARP, believes that many businesses are missing out on a huge opportunity by ignoring the mature consumer. Canadian retail today is soft, as she states, so businesses really need to find ways to differentiate themselves in a market saturated with sellers.Getting to know what makes each consumer tick is perhaps business 101 but essential for building the trust of a generation that has been ignored for too long.

More than a “seniors discount” Discounts are an encouraged incentive, but this is not where it should begin and end.Businesses that view their practices as age inclusive by offering seniors discounts, Eng believes should instead focus on fine-tuning their service starting with getting to know and building the aging consumers’ trust. “Keep the discount. Sell me a product I really want! You can appeal to the middle income older Canadian by appealing to their taste and values.” Start with a new attitude toward each customer and end with personalized service.

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