Pharmacy U

Baby boomers and Millennials – how do you handle these different customers?

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Can retail pharmacies serve both baby boomers and millennials? That question was addressed by Vicky Applebaum and Millie Ho of Retail Category Consultants.

By Heather Kent

The answer, they said, is to market to both groups, while recognizing the differences and similarities in their shopping behaviour.

Applebaum said that nine million Canadian baby boomers are nearing retirement or already retired. This demographic group will make up half of the population by 2020.  By 2017 baby boomers expected to purchase 50% of consumer packaged goods (CPG).

Millennials will represent 40% of the workforce and 30% of retail sales by 2020, said Ho. Canada’s nine million millennials are reaching their peak earning years. Without a baby boom in this demographic, they are freer to spend on themselves, she added.

Consumer behaviour

Baby boomers research products, increasingly online, before shopping at drugstores, and they also read paper flyers, said Applebaum. Brands still matter to this demographic and they will pay for quality products.

Loyalty from baby boomers depends on receiving good customer service, with face to face contact. For retailers, this means providing an integrated customer service strategy with equal emphasis on all channels. Smartphone apps, combined with excellent in-store service, will attract this group. Retailers should use social media to elicit responses from baby boomers regarding their satisfaction with the service they receive.

Baby boomers do not want to be reminded that they are aging, said Applebaum. Therefore, avoid terms like “seniors’ aisles” and “seniors’ day” promotions.

Millennials like brands that represent their values and reinforce their individuality, said Ho. This demographic group represents omni-channel shoppers who expect to see the same product price in stores as online. They are “showroomers” who use their mobile devices to read online reviews. While in the store, they want to be able to scan an item and read customer reviews before purchasing. They also expect  staff to use technology such as iPads to familiarize themselves with products and know inventory levels in all channels. Stores will be rewarded with loyalty if they offer great deals, Ho added. Millennials also value fair business practices.

A focus on holistic health will resonate with both baby boomers and millennials, they said. Pharmacists should position themselves as holistic health providers and be integrated into a “lifestyle team.” Understanding the differences but also recognizing the similarities will help ensure you are serving both of these important sets of customers.