Earlier this week I talked about why target marketing was important and gave a brief primer of how to go about it. Today though I was reading an interesting book, Why We Buy by Paco Underhill, which takes a look at consumer behavior and the author brought up something I hadn’t really thought about. Understanding who buys your product – ie, your target market – is also critical when it comes to designing your packaging. He points out that our population here in the US is aging at a rapid rate as the Baby Boomers, one of the largest generation our nation has ever seen, slowly starts to grey. However, many products that are purchased by seniors aren’t packaged in a way that make it easy for them to read.
Let’s use this example which Underhill touches on in the book and directly relates to my own small business – dog treats. Underhill argues – rightly I would say based on my experience in the industry – that many dog treats are purchased by seniors. By now these customers have kids who have left the nest so they have more disposable income than they’ve had in the past. However, they still have a desire to nuture and for many of them their dogs have become stand-in for their kids (as much us kids hate to hear that!). Even my own parents have a ready supply of dog treats on hand at all times. Though they have no kids at home, no grandkids nearby, and no dog of their own, they like to be able to hand out treats to the neighborhood dogs. Yesterday my father even texted me a picture of one neighborhood dog who had stopped by for his daily treat and stuck around to play a game of Fetch.
Yet most dog treat packaging, my own included to a certain extent, does not take seniors into account during the design process. No matter how we fight it, as we age our eyes age too and that means that small font may be hard for older eyes to clearly see and color can blend together easier leaving packaging undististinguishable which means that it mighgt be passed over by this huge and powerful demographic.
Taking seniors into account when designing packaging certainly isn’t limited to dog treats. No matter how ‘hip’ you think your product is, seniors make up such a large portion of the population that you need to understand if they will be buying from you. Understanding the demographics of your area and what percentage is made up of seniors will help you determine the level of focus you have to make on being sure that your product is easily accessible to them. Even if they aren’t buying the product for themselves, Boomers have an incredibly spending power and may be buying your ‘hip’ product for their grandkids. But they won’t buy anything if they can’t read the packaging and easily understand the benefits your product offers.
(And I’m now expecting to an angry call from my parents about calling them senior in 3…2…1…)