Packaging for seniors

Seniors are the fastest-growing purchasing demographic, yet few companies focus on them. Discover the importance of designing packaging for seniors.

The 60+ age group is the fastest-growing consumer demographic worldwide, according to the United Nations. Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that seniors will be a $15 trillion target market in 2020. And yet the issues that make seniors’ daily lives harder or easier — such as product packaging — often are not taken into account.

Some examples: 

  • Bottle lids are too small, have difficult child-proof directions, or require a strong grip to open
  • The printing on product packages (such as cautions, ingredients, nutrition information or directions) is too small for those with deteriorating eyesight
  • The plastic sealed around a product in molded transparent-type packaging is thick, strong and difficult to open, even with scissors or a knife. 

Winning over seniors is good for businesses in the long-term; they tend to be more loyal to a product once they are satisfied. A study on consumer loyalty by Morning Consult, a global survey research company, found that 75% of baby boomers and 67% of Gen Xers agreed with the statement, “When I find a product I like, I tend to buy it repeatedly.” Those numbers fell to 59% for Millennials and just 49% for Generation Z.

Why Senior-Friendly Packaging is Necessary

A Census Bureau report funded by the National Institutes of Health titled “An Aging World” takes a look at the unprecedented growth in the population of older people worldwide. The sheer numbers illustrate the need for more senior-centric focus in product and package design:

  • The 65+ population in the United States will double to 88 million by 2050
  • Life expectancy from birth is expected to go from 68.6 years to 76.2 years in that time
  • The number of people age 80+ worldwide — called the “oldest old” — will triple by 2050. And in some countries in Asia and Latin America, the number of these seniors is expected to quadruple.

life expectancy at age 60 by country

Why Senior-Friendly Packaging is Necessary

A Census Bureau report funded by the National Institutes of Health titled “An Aging World” takes a look at the unprecedented growth in the population of older people worldwide. The sheer numbers illustrate the need for more senior-centric focus in product and package design:

  • The 65+ population in the United States will double to 88 million by 2050
  • Life expectancy from birth is expected to go from 68.6 years to 76.2 years in that time
  • The number of people age 80+ worldwide — called the “oldest old” — will triple by 2050. And in some countries in Asia and Latin America, the number of these seniors is expected to quadruple.

The industries with the most positive responses were electronics, personal care/cosmetics, pharmaceutical and household products. Electronics and household products had high numbers of negative responses, while medical devices/supplies had the highest number of negative responses.

Despite this, customer satisfaction among senior customers is of growing importance, and as the demographics of this group grow, its buying power will become more and more significant.

What Packaging for Seniors Looks Like

what packaging for seniors looks like

Senior consumers are prevalent in large and growing numbers, increasingly educated, and loyal to products that have proven themselves. Companies who want to take advantage of this demographic by designing more accessible packaging need to take several factors into account:

  • A package must be intuitively easy to open. This means that any ordinary person holding the package would naturally understand what he or she needs to do to open it, through markings, type, diagrams, or images.
  • Type must be easy to read. In many cases, this means changing to a more legible and/or larger font, which can be a challenge because many product packages are small. Contrasting colors also make a difference.
  • Use visual images when possible. Using more graphics, images, and icons than text helps with the legibility issue and also helps bridge language gaps in an increasingly multicultural population.
  • Make packaging simple and lightweight whenever possible. But do not let this mean you ignore the crucial issue of how to open it; molded plastic casings are lightweight, but can be impossibly difficult to open. 
  • Resist making the mistake of thinking only in terms of demographics. Making your packaging more accessible to seniors will make it more accessible to every customer.

Solve Unique Problems with an Experienced Partner

Seniors are a big demographic with significant buying power. As the fastest-growing consumer group worldwide, they are expected to dominate spending in nearly every category by 2030. However, most large companies do not market specifically to this demographic, either in advertising or in things like product design and packaging.

People who are 55+ and 65+ tend to have deteriorating eyesight and less strength.

Companies who help meet these challenges with better packaging — creating easier-to-read type, more intuitive opening instructions, and fewer strength barriers — are likely to reap benefits in both profits and consumer loyalty.  

Creating solutions is a critical part of what we do at BillerudKorsnäs’ Managed Packaging. We support our clients by engineering quality packaging that is designed to make their supply chain more efficient. 

To learn more about our ethos and how to gain a competitive edge through better packaging, download our Key Packaging Trends eBook.

Contact

Any questions, ideas or something you'd like to tell us? Don't hesitate to contact us. 

Get in touch