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Understanding older shoppers: a phenomenological investigation

Hayley Myers (School of Management, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK)
Margaret Lumbers (School of Management, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 1 August 2008




This research aims to explore the shopping behaviour and needs and wants of the over 55s market. Retail spaces have been most concerned with targeting the young, but the growing importance of the older segment now dictates that retail environments must increasingly communicate with older shoppers.


Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with senior executives from the retail property industry. Focus groups were conducted with older shoppers to explore their perceived needs and wants.


Key findings include the need to use “perceived age” rather than chronological age in determining marketing strategies. The importance of shopping as a means of socialisation and a leisure pursuit was emphasised by older consumers and that they see themselves as experienced, astute shoppers who seek quality and service.

Research limitations/implications

The heterogeneity of the mature market was highlighted; outlook and lifestyles of older consumers are likely to continue to change with successive generations. This indicates the need for continued research in this field to fully understand the needs and wants of a diverse and important market segment.

Practical implications

Findings are evaluated in the context of previous research to draw out implications and potential actions points for the retail and shopping place industry, specifically to create aspirational shopping spaces for older shoppers and use targeted brand management to communicate effectively.


The paper provides insights into the needs and wants of older shoppers and highlights that while this group values the shopping environment for social and leisure usage, retailers and shopping places needs to better understand and tailor their offer to benefit from the growing importance of the older shopper.



Myers, H. and Lumbers, M. (2008), "Understanding older shoppers: a phenomenological investigation", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 294-301.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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