Personal touch remains crucial to making older consumers buy in-store, Pragma study finds


Well-staffed tills and a warm welcome are the key drivers of in-store purchasing among older consumers, who still value the personal touch in an age of retail technology, according to new research.

Six out of 10 over-50s surveyed by Pragma, a St Ives Group company, cited too few staff manning tills as the main factor which would dissuade them from returning to a shop.

Meanwhile, some 37% highlighted lack of a welcoming atmosphere as their reason for blacklisting a retailer, while 29% agreed the total number of staff visible on the shop floor was a crucial factor in their loyalty.

Other no-nos cited include lack of special offers or promotions (26%), confusing store layout (26%), poor signage (22%) and unsuitable fitting rooms (22%).

The findings resulted from research conducted among more than 1,300 UK consumers aged 50 or over, providing a fresh perspective on the attitudes and behaviours of older consumers and pinpointing how retailers can engage effectively with this market.

Katie Lucas, consultant, Pragma, said: “Having spent years chasing Britain’s youth, retailers are now waking up to the fact that a wealth of untapped opportunity lies in the 50+ market.

Not only are there 22m people in this age group in the UK, who accounted for £320bn of expenditure in 2012, this demographic is growing and is expected to reach 29m by 2035.

“We have defined several fundamentals if you want to ride the wave of 50+ retail fever. These include realising the value of making the store experience personal, so in-store service extends to all customer touchpoints. For example, Bonmarché gets it right on the shop floor but also utilises its Facebook page as a responsive and personal customer service tool.

“It’s important to note that a majority of people who answered the survey don’t see ageing as a negative. Some 57% of consumers felt positive about growing older, so consideration needs to be given to how this is clearly expressed in brand communications.”