Amazon is having a senior moment.
Earlier this month, the e-tail giant launched the 50+ Active and Healthy Living Store (www.amazon.com/50activeliving), featuring nutrition, wellness, exercise and fitness, medical, personal care, beauty, entertainment items — all accessible through a single portal and all geared toward Boomers.
Experts say targeting the forever-young crowd is a smart move. Consider these statistics from DMW Direct, a marketing firm specializing in targeting and advertising to the 50-plus consumer:
The 50-plus segment is the most affluent consumer group today, accounting for over 40 percent of total consumer demand.
The group spends almost $2 trillion on goods and services annually.
Consumers over 50 spend $7 billion each year on online purchases.
And new research from Forrester Research found that baby boomers between the ages of 56-66 years old spend the most money online when compared to all other generations.
"We're excited to offer customers in the 50-plus age range a place to easily discover hundreds of thousands of items that promote active and healthy living," said Charles Wales, director of Beauty and Health & Personal Care for Amazon. "This is a destination where a customer can purchase anything from vitamins and blood pressure monitors to skin care items and books on traveling the world,"
It's also a destination where the typeface is larger to encourage the presbyopic crowd to spend more time browsing, and the promotions are a little, well, less sexy than Amazon's home page. Along with yoga videos, travel accessories and Kindles, the site offers incontinence supplies, hair loss products, mobility aids and indigestion medications.
"Our goal is to offer great prices on a vast selection of items and a robust Resource Center filled with tips on everything from boosting brain power to care giving," says Wales.
The range of merchandise and information makes sense — more than half of baby boomers claim they feel years younger than their actual age; while at the same time, a majority also admit they suffer daily aches and pains.
But that contrast makes boomers a difficult group to market to, says Andrea Tannenbaum, president of Bloomfield's Dynamic Living Inc. ( http://www.dynamic-living.com), and she should know. Tannenbaum launched her company, an online catalog of assistive products to help people with vision, mobility and hearing problems, in 1997.
Dynamic Living stocks such items as grab bars, clocks with larger numbers, large print Scrabble tiles, jar openers, adaptive clothing and foldable canes.
"On the one hand, Boomers are very comfortable shopping online and when they see something that they think will make the aging process easier, they're willing to take out their wallets and buy it," says Tannenbaum. "On the other hand, no one, regardless of their age, wants to buy stuff they perceive as being for 'old people.'"
I get that. As a boomer, I'm not so enthusiastic about the whole aging process myself. Apart from a few pairs of trendy readers and an attractive brushed nickel towel holder, (okay, grab bar), we had installed by the tub when we renovated a bathroom, I haven't felt the inclination to shop for items earmarked specifically for aging hippies.
Part of that is due to the fact that, in the past, the senior market was defined by medical supplies and utilitarian, read, ugly, products — stuff you got for your grandparents, not yourself. These days, boomers want items that combine style and function, without referring to the underlying need.
"This age group wants good design, attractive items that allow them to keep doing the things they want to do, but a lot of merchandise hasn't had the makeover yet," says Tannenbaum. "Companies have been slow to respond, but it's beginnging to happen and if they see a market for these goods, they'll respond."
"If it's a success, you can expect more companies to follow suit," she says.