Grocers and food brands take older consumers for granted
In an opinion column for Advertising Age, Pamela Millman, associate director, Integrated Marketing at AARP Media, writes that the over-50 crowd buys 54 percent of all groceries in the U.S. and has become more health-conscious and cooks more frequently since the pandemic began. Nevertheless, older consumers remain “often-overlooked” by food marketers.
She wrote, “Whether preparing meals at home or shopping for groceries at the store or online, 50+ adults are open to new ideas, experiences, products and services, which makes them highly receptive to marketing campaigns that attract their attention.”
Based on data sourced from MRI-Simmons and the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey, she listed four reasons the 50-plus cohort is worth targeting:
- They buy foods that support healthier lifestyles: Eighty-nine percent pay attention to nutrition and 81 percent are looking for new ways to live a healthier life.
- They’re creative in the kitchen: Eighty-one percent cook frequently every week, 75 percent prefer cooking with fresh foods in keeping with their healthy lifestyles, 77 percent look for easy options and 73 percent plan dinners at home ahead of time.
- They fill digital shopping carts: Having long been fans of the convenience of online shopping, over-50s are shopping online even more since the pandemic began, including purchasing 39 percent of meal kits online in the past six months.
- They enjoy indulgences: More than 70 percent sometimes give in to cravings for foods that give them enjoyment or comfort.
Americans are living longer, healthier and more independent lives as they age but have different nutrition needs than younger generations. An International Food Information Council (IFIC) study from 2018 found that heart health and muscle health proved to be the two most concerning topics for those over 50, at 80 and 75 percent respectively. Brain health and having enough energy were equally essential health topics at 74 percent.
People 55-plus controlled 70 percent of all personal wealth in the U.S., according to the Federal Reserve’s “Survey of Consumer Finances” study from 2019. Many benefited over the last two years from skyrocketing home prices.
However, food advertisers have traditionally targeted mothers with children and many market observers see an overall bias toward the young in advertising continuing.
- Why 50+ Consumers Matter To Food Marketers – Advertising Age
- Older Americans have a strong appetite for health but face barriers, says nutrition survey – International Food Information Council
- Aging well in a pandemic: Older adults share what it takes – National Poll on Healthy Aging
- Don’t Underestimate the Market Power of the 50+ Crowd – Harvard Business Review
- Why is advertising still ignoring people in their 50s and 60s? – Campaign Live
- Women Over 50 in Advertising Are as Rare as Unicorn Tears – Little Black Book
- Older Americans, Flush With Housing and Stock Portfolio Wealth, Poised to Revive Spending This Year – The Wall Street Journal
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that grocers and food brands are missing opportunities to capture a greater share of purchases made by Americans 50+? If yes, how should they correct the situation?