Holiday Marketing Targeting Grandparents: How to Hit the Retail Jackpot



targeting grandparents

As your small retail store prepares for the holiday shopping season, don’t forget about an often overlooked, but highly profitable, segment of shoppers: Grandparents. Holiday marketing targeting grandparents can be a great idea.

Polling company CivicScience analyzed data from nearly 185,000 grandparents who responded to its surveys in the past year. Below is what they found and how it can shape your holiday marketing.

Holiday Marketing Targeting Grandparents Tips

The holiday season brings with it a unique opportunity to connect with a diverse range of customers, including a demographic that is often overlooked but holds significant purchasing power – grandparents.

Grandparents not only play a pivotal role in family dynamics but also in the economy, particularly during the holiday season.

As they seek to spoil their grandchildren and find joy in gift-giving, understanding and catering to their specific needs and preferences can be a key strategy for businesses during this festive period.

Below, we delve into various aspects of holiday marketing targeting grandparents. From their shopping preferences to the kind of experiences they value, these insights will help you tailor your marketing efforts effectively.

Let’s explore how your business can resonate with and captivate this important customer segment during the holidays.

Grandparents are More Likely to Frequent Brick-and-Mortar Stores

holiday marketing targeting grandparents

More than 70 percent of grandparents do most or all of their shopping at physical stores. Better yet, they are more likely than parents to shop at small, independent retail stores (16 percent, compared to 9 percent of parents).

What to do About it:

Emphasize your store’s independent roots. Play up your story, yourself and your employees in your marketing. Participate in Small Business Saturday (November 29, 2014) to attract attention as an independent retailer.

Upscale Grandparents Buy More

holiday marketing targeting grandparents

While many grandparents are on a fixed income, there are plenty who have money to spare. Grandparents most likely to say they “spoil” their grandchildren with gifts typically have annual household incomes of $150,000 or more.

What to do About it:

Because these grandparents also watch an average of six hours of TV per day, cable advertising can be a good way to reach this segment. Since other studies have shown that high-income consumers are more likely to shop online, try including your website URL in your ads to attract those seniors who want to shop or research purchases online.

Tap Younger Grandparents

Nearly one-fourth (22 percent) of the grandparents polled were under the age of 55. This means they’re more likely to be employed and more likely to shop online.

Even among grandparents, online shopping is gaining slightly: Seventeen percent, compared to 13 percent a year ago, say they spend time both equally online and in physical stores.

What to do About it:

Even if you don’t sell products online, be sure your store’s website provides plenty of information about your products, as well as contact information including address, directions, hours and a phone number.

More and more seniors are using the Internet to research before they buy. If your website encourages web users to call for more information or to put products on hold, you’re more likely to attract seniors who will come by to see the items in person.

Loyalty Programs and Special Discounts

Many seniors are loyal to the brands and stores they shop at. Introducing loyalty programs or offering senior discounts can not only boost sales but also encourage repeat business.

What to do About it:

Start a loyalty card system where seniors can earn points for every purchase. Once they reach a certain number of points, they can redeem them for discounts or special items. Advertise “Senior Days” where they get additional discounts or perks for shopping on specific days.

Special Events and Workshops

Seniors often value experiences and learning opportunities. Offering in-store events or workshops can attract more senior customers.

What to do About it:

Organize events that might be of interest to grandparents, like DIY gift-wrapping workshops or product demonstrations. Host sessions that teach them about the latest products that would be great gifts for their grandchildren.

Seniors Face Physical Limitations

holiday marketing targeting grandparents

As seniors age, getting out to shop becomes more difficult, especially during the hectic holiday season. They may not want to drive after dark, struggle with crowded parking lots or get jostled by crowds.

What to do About it:

Make your store is as senior-friendly as possible by:

  • Brightly lighting windows and displays.
  • Keeping aisles wide enough for those with canes or walkers to navigate.
  • Using easily readable fonts and font sizes on signage, product information and price tags.
  • Keeping background music to a level that promotes conversation.
  • Providing seating for shoppers to rest.

Gift Wrapping and Delivery Services

Considering that some seniors might find it challenging to wrap gifts or carry heavy bags, offering complimentary gift wrapping and delivery can be a game-changer.

What to do About it:

Promote free or discounted gift wrapping for senior purchases and consider providing a home delivery service for orders over a certain amount. This not only eases their shopping experience but also adds a touch of personalized service.

Seniors Appreciate Personal Interaction

holiday marketing targeting grandparents

While younger consumers may be happy with online shopping and self-serve kiosks, older shoppers appreciate old-fashioned service. That means they like to chat with clerks, ask questions and enjoy the “human touch” in transactions.

What to do About it:

Train your sales staff on how to deal politely with older customers who may take more time to make decisions, have trouble hearing clearly in a noisy store or want to pay with checks. Younger employees especially may come off as rude to seniors. So it’s important to make sure older customers don’t feel rushed or patronized.

Seniors Avoid the Rush

CivicScience reports that seniors are more likely to stretch their shopping over longer periods than the average customer, and less likely to attend big “sale days” like Black Friday. Some 15 percent of parents, but just 8 percent of grandparents, hit the stores that day.

What to do About it:

Encourage seniors to shop early in the season or on “off” days and times. For instance, put print ads in newspapers (still widely read by seniors) or send direct mail postcards to seniors in your target market advertising sales at times when most people are at work, like 9 to 11 on Tuesdays.

Newsletter and Catalogs

While digital marketing is on the rise, many seniors still appreciate the tactile experience of flipping through a catalog or newsletter.

What to do About it:

Create monthly or seasonal catalogs showcasing your store’s latest products. Also, consider sending out newsletters that share stories from your store, spotlight loyal senior customers, or provide information on upcoming sales and events. This not only keeps your store top-of-mind but also fosters a sense of community among senior shoppers.

Simplified Online Shopping Experience

The online shopping experience can often be overwhelming for seniors, especially if it’s cluttered or complicated.

What to do About it:

Simplify your website’s layout, making it easy to navigate with clear menus, larger font sizes, and straightforward checkout processes. Consider creating a tutorial video or guide on how to shop online from your store, specifically addressing common concerns and questions that seniors might have.

Emphasize Safety and Convenience

Seniors are often more concerned about safety, especially in crowded shopping environments like during the holidays.

What to do About it:

Highlight the safety measures you have in place in your store, such as sanitization procedures, crowd control, and contactless payment options. For online shoppers, assure them of secure payment gateways and privacy protection.

Accessibility-Focused Store Layout

Physical accessibility can be a major concern for senior shoppers, especially those with mobility issues.

What to do About it:

Ensure your store is wheelchair accessible, with wide aisles and uncluttered spaces. Consider adding seating areas where seniors can rest. Place commonly purchased items within easy reach, and ensure that signage is large, clear, and easily readable.

Personalized Recommendations

Personalized service can significantly enhance the shopping experience for seniors, making them feel valued and understood.

What to do About it:

Train your staff to offer personalized product recommendations based on individual customer needs and preferences. Consider implementing a system where your staff can remember repeat customers and their past purchases to provide a more tailored experience.

Home Shopping Options

holiday marketing targeting grandparents

For seniors who prefer or need to shop from home, providing a catalog or phone-based ordering service can be a big draw.

What to do About it:

Set up a system where seniors can order over the phone or through a printed catalog. Offer delivery services to bring purchases directly to their homes, adding a personal touch to the shopping experience.

Senior-Friendly Technology in Store

Integrating technology in a way that enhances the shopping experience for seniors can be beneficial.

What to do About it:

Implement user-friendly digital kiosks in-store where seniors can easily navigate to find products or get information. Provide assistance and guidance on how to use these technologies.

Community Engagement Events

Seniors often appreciate community and social interactions, which can be facilitated through in-store events.

What to do About it:

Host community engagement events like senior coffee mornings, knitting circles, or book clubs in your store. These events can create a sense of belonging and encourage repeat visits.

Addressing Health and Wellness Needs

Many seniors are focused on maintaining their health and wellness.

What to do About it:

Stock and highlight products that cater to health and wellness needs. Host health-related workshops or seminars in-store, partnering with local healthcare professionals or organizations.

Providing Multilingual Support

For seniors from diverse linguistic backgrounds, language can be a barrier.

What to do About it:

If you’re in an area with a significant non-English speaking senior population, consider providing multilingual support in your store. Hire staff who can speak these languages or have signage and materials available in multiple languages.

In-Store Assistance

Personal assistance can make a huge difference for seniors who might need help with shopping.

What to do About it:

Offer in-store shopping assistance for seniors. This can include help with finding products, reading labels, or carrying purchases. Train your staff to be patient, helpful, and respectful at all times.

Marketing to Grandparents Summary

AspectInsightRecommendation
Store Preference70% of grandparents prefer brick-and-mortar stores. 16% shop at small, independent stores.Emphasize store’s independent roots; Participate in Small Business Saturday.
Income & SpendingGrandparents with $150,000+ income tend to "spoil" grandchildren.Cable advertising targeting high-income seniors; Include website URL for online shopping.
Younger Grandparents22% are under 55, often employed, and shop online.Ensure comprehensive product info on the website; Encourage calls for reservations or inquiries.
Loyalty ProgramsSeniors value loyalty to brands.Introduce loyalty cards; Advertise "Senior Days" for special discounts.
Special EventsSeniors value experiences and learning.Host DIY workshops and product demos; Offer sessions on trending products for grandchildren.
Physical LimitationsAge-related challenges in mobility and shopping.Ensure senior-friendly store layout; Provide adequate seating and clear signage.
Gift ServicesWrapping gifts or carrying bags can be challenging.Offer free/discounted gift wrapping; Consider home delivery for larger purchases.
Personal InteractionSeniors prefer human interaction over automation.Train staff for patience and politeness; Ensure no patronization or rushing.
Shopping PatternsAvoid big "sale days" like Black Friday.Promote early-season shopping; Advertise sales during off-peak hours in newspapers.
Newsletters & CatalogsSeniors value tactile marketing tools.Release monthly/seasonal catalogs; Send newsletters spotlighting products and stories.

Grandparents Photo via Shutterstock


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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

2 Reactions
  1. Grandparents also have lots of time and money. This is the reason why they are a really good market to target especially this Christmas.

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