Adapting to new shopping behaviors

Editor’s note: Katarina Weil is the lead solution design consultant, customer foundations at 84.51°. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “What an aging population means for CPGs and grocery retail.” 

The American population is getting older. As the Baby Boomer generation ages into retirement and Americans enjoy longer life spans, the demographic makeup of the country is rapidly shifting towards an older population. By 2030, all Baby Boomers will be at least age 65. This unprecedented aging of America holds major implications for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and grocery retailers.

One major change will be shifts in household dynamics that affect shopping behaviors. For some older consumers, aging means smaller households as children grow up and couples face divorce or widowhood later in life. Our research shows that a single-person household spends 16% less per year than a two-person household.

For others, aging brings larger households from multigenerational cohabitation. As younger relatives take on caregiving roles, their buying behaviors will influence household spending. 

A reduction in shopping trips for older adults

Retailers can also expect an aging population to make fewer shopping trips. As they get older and if their household size shrinks, shoppers tend to reduce their trips to the grocery store. Our research shows shoppers between the ages of 19 and 24 make approximately 34.3% more grocery trips than shoppers ages 75 or more. 

For retailers, this makes in-store conversions increasingly important. Management of basket sizes and enhancing ease of shopping for seniors should become priorities. For CPG brands, these demographic realities require rethinking product offerings to serve the needs of older adults. Packaging, labeling and ingredients all may need to adapt to changing physical abilities and health conditions. Marketing and advertising must also speak to older consumers. 

As the demographic shift towards an older population continues, changes in household dynamics and shopping behaviors will significantly impact the industry. By understanding and adapting to these changes, businesses can position themselves for success in a rapidly evolving market.