As the nation’s dominant consumer group, all 76 million of the 50-plus set represent 26 percent of the population and spend $2.3 trillion annually on goods and services. Many boomers also have more time and a growing interest in wellness. Thus, natural products retailers are uniquely qualified to be their partners in health.

Whether these customers have matured with your store or entered for the first time, use the following tips to cater to their needs and earn their long-term loyalty.

Retail consultant

  1. Tell a story.
    Use e-newsletters, seminars, videos and social media to give boomers the “inside scoop” on health products. We (I was born in 1956, so I’m one of them) love to hear stories about why a natural option works, how it was discovered and what makes it special. I just found out resveratrol can change your metabolism, so now I order my oatmeal with extra raisins and drink red wine. We also like to share health information. That’s why at cocktail parties, I tell people that I’m trying to watch my waistline.
     
  2. Offer a sample.
    For boomers, grocery shopping is all about them and their health. They’re not bringing kids on shopping trips anymore, so they have time to discover the latest products and indulge themselves. By offering a taste of new items, you’ll make shopping for natural products an experience they’ll look forward to. Do this successfully, and you’ll have these shoppers forever.
     
  3. Sort out solutions.
    Boomers are an active group, yet they also face health issues that they never thought about before—such as spreading waistlines, aching feet and sleepless nights. To accommodate their needs, it’s important to organize natural aids by the remedies they provide.

    —Jim Hertel, Managing partner of Chicago-based retail consulting firm Willard Bishop

Natural products retailer

  1. Fuel a health transformation.
    When fed proper nutrients, our bodies can significantly recover, no matter our age. Once shoppers experience a health transformation, they will commit to maintaining that lifestyle and to shopping at your store.
     
  2. Return to the good ol’ days.
    When someone has witnessed the decline of family meals into frozen entrées loaded with synthetic ingredients, the taste of fresh food can reawaken a yearning for the way food used to be. Offering real food grown in healthy soil and produced with respect speaks for itself.
     
  3. Offer expert advice.
    One of our greatest assets is an on-staff herbalist and a registered nurse who is available for free consultations three days per week. With dual certifications, the nurse can make recommendations and discuss prescription interactions, dosages and contraindications.
     
  4. Lure their grandchildren.
    The rising rates of autism,  ADD/ADHD and severe food allergies inspires caregiving grandparents to seek relief at our store. We provide a gluten-free guide for shoppers detailing the brand and location of nearly every gluten-free item in our store. We also offer store tours targeted to specific allergies.

    —April Lea Pedrick, Marketing coordinator for Harvest Market Natural Foods in Hockessin, Del.

Supplements manufacturer

  1. Highlight quality and benefits.
    Baby boomers want well-designed products that deliver what they promise, especially natural and organic goods that carry seals of approval and third-party certifications. They have the self-confidence to read labels and brochures, and want to understand the benefits—and any risks—of their choices. Provide an assortment of products and clearly identify product differences and unique propositions.
     
  2. Sell social responsibility.
    Those over age 50 demand truthfulness and integrity. Our customers buy Rainbow Light products because we deliver a difference they can feel, and they also appreciate our support of Vitamin Angels and our EcoGuard sustainable packaging initiative. To reach these shoppers, brands and retailers should actively communicate how they give back to the global community and environment.
     
  3. Make it an easy read.
    Although often overlooked, older customers likely have worsening vision. Ensure that lighting, product placement and packaging allow them to read labels easily. Young graphic designers often prefer all caps and reverse type (white printing on dark backgrounds), but this design is notoriously difficult for 40-plus consumers to read.

    —Sandra Klein, Senior vice president of sales, marketing and new product development at Rainbow Light in Santa Cruz, Calif.