Boomers’ Voices Heard in NGA 2010 Consumer Survey

Articles
February 08, 2010

Boomers’ Voices Heard in NGA 2010 Consumer Survey

The nation is so preoccupied with our slow crawl out of the recession that Boomers haven’t been in the limelight much.

The nation is so preoccupied with our slow crawl out of the recession that Boomers haven’t been in the limelight much. That’s because much of the earlier talk about Boomers celebrated their buying power, their persistence, their individuality, and their ability to create opportunities and shape the country rather than be shaped by outside forces. 

Certainly, many are still on that pleasant path. But few flaunt it if they’re that fortunate—because they know that countless others have suffered harsh financial hits the past two years: jobs and pensions vanished, and home values and retirement savings diminished, while health care, food, energy and education costs rose.

While Boomers aren’t a homogeneous group—there are many kinds among them—it is probably accurate to say today that the recession took the steam out of their collective buying power and their personal buying passions. This difference has been felt not only by car dealers and department stores, but also by restaurants (less dining out) and supermarkets (numerous savings strategies, such as trading down from preferred brands). No wonder food stores have had trouble attaining strong comps.

The National Grocers Association SupermarketGuru 2010 Consumer Survey Report—just posted on the NGA & SG website and the topic of my live presentation at the NGA Annual Convention—gives many critical insights for retailers. Among them: a taste of post-recession life for Americans between the ages of 50 and 64. People in this age group accounted for 48% of our respondents in this national research study. The first of the Boomers turn 65 this year. Here are some of the findings which we feel are most influenced by them:

  • ‘Personal safety outside the store’ jumped by four percentage points to 63% in the share of respondents who call it a ‘very important supermarket feature.’
  • ‘Paying attention to special requests or needs’ also rose by four percentage points to 40% in the share of respondents who call it a ‘very important supermarket feature.’ As Boomers grow older, they have more special needs, and they increasingly voice their individual demands. They feel they’re paying enough, and will take their business elsewhere if a store fails to help them.
  • ‘Nutrition and health information available’ escalated six percentage points to 37% in the share of respondents who call it a ‘very important supermarket feature.’ An aging populace wants to eat healthier and prolong life. Empty nesters and childless couples account for 69% of survey respondents who regard this store trait as ‘very important.’
  • ‘High-quality seafood department’ is a favorite of Boomers, who drove the 77% overall ‘very/somewhat important’ rating on this store feature.
  • Although only 10% of respondents overall regard pharmacy presence as ‘very important,’ older consumers accounted for 65% of those who said this. Its dramatic rise from 49% a year ago reflects the myriad health conditions of 76 million Boomers.
  • More mature consumers 50 and older account for 65% of those who consider it ‘very important’ that a supermarket ‘be active or involved in the community.’