Professional Jeweler Archive: Wooing Older Shoppers

March 2005

Cover Focus | 60+


Wooing Older Shoppers

Change subtle details such as lighting, graphics and background noise but keep selling romance and comfortable elegance

By Ruth Mellergaard and Sarah Yates


Romance is important to the 60+ market. “Some of our shoppers are looking for gifts to celebrate a second marriage. Others want appropriate gifts to rekindle the marriage they already have,” says Ken Dondero of Dondero’s Jewelry, Vineland, NJ. “Sex and relationships sell at age 25, 65 and even 85.”

Attract older customers inside your store by emphasizing romance. Use active older models in your transparencies. Design displays with some resonance for this demographic: black sweats with new diamonds, classic blue jeans with pearls. Portray comfortable elegance.

Natural materials such as wood, metal and glass establish a classic environment. The key is creation of the familiar without visual boredom. Cherry wood and maple are timeless for showcases. Be sure there’s enough room between cases for customers to browse with ease.

Use Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines to help you determine the dimensions, allowing space for wheelchairs, walkers and canes. An automatic opener on your door, with a hidden roll-down grille if needed for security, welcomes shoppers of all ages. Keep the aisles clear of clutter. Use showcases at the right height for customers to see merchandise easily and without bending.

Members of this generation aspire to a less frantic lifestyle than younger counterparts. Use nature-based colors in combination with some of the newer light-infused colors, textured natural wallpaper or, alternatively, some retro colors such as anodized silver and warm grays. Silver, treated with color, is hot this season – don’t forget that older customers, especially women, still follow color trends. Finishes are dulled with patinas, replacing high-gloss chrome.

One organic green recommended in the Color Marketing Group’s 2005 Consumer Color Direction sums it up: Eden “creates optimism and rejuvenation … a symbol of the desire for rebirth and recovery.” It’s a perfect message for people in the last third of their lives. Surprise and amuse the older crowd with familiar color combinations with an unusual twist, such as peachy gray and dark green with matte purple accents.

Use brighter ambient light so shoppers don’t have to go for their glasses to see what appeals to them. Avoid shadowing. Space your merchandise a little farther apart so viewers can concentrate without visual clutter. As eyes become more wearied with use, lack of contrast is a major cause of distress. Graphics and informational signs need higher contrast between the print and the background color. Fonts or lettering without curlicues and fancy design elements are easier to read. Warm 3500K colored fluorescents are kinder to customers’ coloring; incandescents shed a warm light.

Hearing is less acute as we age also. Background noise is tough for anyone wearing a hearing aid or for anyone whose hearing is just beginning to dull. For a more relaxing ambience, make sure your sound system doesn’t blare. Try to eliminate the mechanical sounds of air conditioning or heating through the use of sound-absorbent floor, wall and ceiling coverings. Low- or medium-pile carpet enables accessibility, imparts luxury and eases salespeople’s legs. It’s also sound absorbent, as are cork and carpet tile.

In addition to the sit-down area for diamond purchases, include some well-placed chairs to encourage shoppers to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine while they consider a purchase. Provide a lower cash counter for customers wanting to write a check while seated in a chair.

To appeal to the older generation without losing sight of youth, make use of the familiar, then surprise and intrigue. Wow them with subtlety and wit.

Encourage older customers to relax with a special libation ensconced on a bit of fine furniture. Here, 70-year-old actress Julie Andrews shows how it’s done for an article on her still-active life in AARP The Magazine.
Jeweler Ken Dondero of Dondero Jewelers, Vineland, NJ, welcomes older guests with comfortable chairs and a modern, clean design that has kept up with the times.

Ruth Mellergaard is a principal and Sarah Yates is director of marketing at GRID/3 International, New York City; (212) 273-1180, design@ grid3.com, www.grid3.com.

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications