Graying the Supermarket, Artfully

Articles
March 12, 2010

Graying the Supermarket, Artfully

If supermarket managers focus on the shoppers in their aisles – not just the conditions of their shelves – they’d know the kinds of customers that frequent their stores, the times and days they tend to shop, and the parts of the store that please or irk them most.

If supermarket managers focus on the shoppers in their aisles – not just the conditions of their shelves – they’d know the kinds of customers that frequent their stores, the times and days they tend to shop, and the parts of the store that please or irk them most.

With these insights, a ‘quick-change artist’ store could satisfy shoppers more by suiting their rhythms and preferences. It doesn’t require operational drama on the selling floor to suit a group like the 55+, for example. How about ‘60s music on the speaker system when Boomers are most populous? Might it lengthen their store visits, and help make them more receptive to many kinds of offers?

Supermarkets that adopt lessons from gyms whose membership has grayed will be quicker to bring more shopping pleasure to Boomers. Membership among adults 55 and older reached 10.5 million in 2008, up from 1.5 million in 1987, making them the fastest-growing segment of the health club population, the New York Times reported, citing annual surveys by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association.

Clubs not only change the music at their busiest ‘gray’ times, they change the equipment and the regimens to suit the body conditions of most of 55+, rather than jacked young bodybuilders. Similarly, supermarkets could observe when their 55+ come in and adjust accordingly. If they’re coming from their gym workouts, they need to rehydrate and replenish, and highly visible displays of cold beverages and protein bars or shakes might click. Or some other healthful foods on displays (or a dietitian’s presentation) could help these shoppers better understand the interplay between exercise, foods and beverages at their age and their intensity levels. This would promote their self-improvement and their active lifestyles, and keep the supermarket in the mix.

Indeed, Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has proclaimed this week (March 8-12) as Older Pennsylvanians’ Nutrition Awareness Week. “Eating properly and getting adequate exercise can go a long way to maintaining good health,” he said.  The state’s Department of Aging and the 52 Area Agencies on Aging offer information and programs on proper nutrition for older adults.

With so many motivated Boomers (and seniors), and with institutionalized programs such as this around, supermarkets need to know their 55+-shopper ebb and flow – in order to reach more of them more powerfully, and to remain an essential part of their fitness and health equation.