Commentary: How to merchandise IoT products to appeal to seniors

BY Geoff Gross

We live in an aging world. About 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every single day. By 2030, every Baby Boomer will have turned 65. At that point, one in five Americans will have reached retirement age.

That amounts to one massive audience of consumers who have specific needs and concerns, which presents a lucrative opportunity for retailers. Businesses must plan for this future and begin targeting products more heavily toward seniors.

Companies eager to sell technology to seniors would be wise to create products that aid independence. With the AARP reporting that 77% of older adults wish to remain in their homes for as long as possible, this demographic is certain to seek out products that make that desire possible.

A New Category in Tech
Thanks to unprecedented innovations in healthcare technology, brick-and-mortar retailers can offer products that connect with seniors while making happy, healthy, and safe aging an attainable norm.

Aging adults are comfortable with technology and its benefits. According to Accenture research, 17% of Americans 65 and older use wearables to track their fitness and vital signs. In addition, 48% of Americans in this same age group said they’re willing to use wearables to track health habits.

With the spending power of Boomers expected to hit $15 trillion worldwide hit by the end of 2019, this group has the resources necessary to reach their goals. There’s one wrinkle, though: The explosion of the Internet of Things means seniors need help discovering and purchasing potentially helpful devices for their homes and lifestyles.

Healthcare IoT devices are incredibly useful for seniors who need a helping hand, but it also appeals to their caregivers. In 2015 alone, 34.2 million in the U.S. provided unpaid care to an aging loved one. Technology is able to provide a backup plan for caregivers who cannot always be present.

How retailers merchandise these products will make a world of difference, though. By combining innovative healthcare products with an impeccable onboarding process and customer experience, retailers can gain a foothold in this growing market. By the time Boomers have aged into some of these products, they will have a solid idea of which devices they want to buy — paving the way for an immensely loyal customer lifecycle.

Selling to Seniors the Right Way
As sales of IoT devices surge, it’s important to find appealing ways to display these products. Boomers didn’t grow up with iPhones in their hands 24/7, so seemingly simple tech-based actions aren’t second nature for them. It’s important to make the technology experience — including marketing efforts — easy and clear.

How can you ensure that these products and devices are not only easy to use but also understandable in a way that older consumers will readily embrace? By taking the following steps:

1. Get interactive with displays.
Tangible products, comfortable feel, simple approach — the more familiar consumers are with merchandise before a purchase, the happier they’ll be. They should be able to touch, interact with, and familiarize themselves with what they’re buying. At the same time, your sales staff should be friendly, welcoming, and helpful.

You can facilitate employee training and in-person demos by having them wear the devices while they work. Instead of leaving customers to stumble through the features by playing with a display device, team members should engage with them directly and show them what it’s like to own or wear each product.

2. Keep merchandising simple.
Pay close attention to the marketing of each product — it should be simple and straightforward. Boomers are sometimes sensitive to marketing because they feel like people speak down to them or portray them in a light that isn’t realistic or attainable.

Generate a profile of your ideal customer, identifying more than just age and location. Create hobbies for them, picture what their family looks like, and even think about what they like to eat. This will help your marketing efforts be more personalized and relatable.

You should also consider accessibility when creating customer experiences. As people age, their vision and mobility start to deteriorate. To overcome these obstacles, incorporate large font sizes, clear creative statements, and ease of use into every aspect of your displays.

3. Illustrate the end result.
Give consumers the full picture. What does each product do for them? Don’t try to sell a power drill to a senior; sell the piece of furniture that drill can help create.

The same is true goes for any additional aspects that tie into the product, such as subscriptions. Medical alert systems often have a service component, so it can be difficult to understand the bundle — especially because a never-ending expense can create serious sticker shock for consumers who aren’t used to that sort of arrangement. By properly explaining the service behind the subscription, you can keep customers from turning away from a plan that delivers plenty of long-term value.

Seniors and their caregivers are a valuable customer market ripe for retail marketing. With the right displays and advertising efforts, retailers can make connections with this population that create significant value for everyone involved.

Geoff Gross is the founder and CEO of Medical Guardian, a provider of personal emergency response and connected care solutions. With 14 years of experience in the personal emergency response systems industry, Geoff has positioned Medical Guardian to empower its customers through innovative products that offer protection at home and everywhere they go.


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