This month I participated in the Silvers Summit panel at the Consumer Electronics Show entitled, "Forever Young: Tech Assist for Life After 50". During the discussion it became clear there are an abundance of companies catering to the senior population that share a similar pain point; getting their product picked up by stores and into the hands of customers.
One school of thought for this is that retailers are more concerned with providing the latest and greatest inventions that are geared more towards younger generations. However, that may not necessarily be the case. The real underlying problem is the relationship between manufacturers and retailers. Companies vie against one another to get their products on the shelves and although it was a struggle in the beginning for my company, TV Ears, we have been fairly successful getting our merchandise in some of the more prominent stores including Costco, RadioShack, QVC and CVS. Here are some tips I offered at last week’s event that other manufacturers may want to consider to get their senior solutions on the stands:
1) Show results
Is your product available in other stores? If so, how has it faired? Retailers are primarily concerned with generating an acceptable ROI for its valuable shelf space. Be prepared to share results as it helps provide reassurance that carrying the item will bring traffic through the doors and increase sales.
2) Connect with the buyer
Buyers these days are younger than they were in the past. Therefore, it may be difficult for them to understand the real value that your product provides to thousands or even millions of individuals each year. Manufacturers will need to sell their offerings in terms that these folks can relate; such as how they can help their grandparents in certain circumstances. Making this kind of personal connection with the buyer will be of great help.
3) Ask customers to request the product
While your products may be available on a Web site, some customers – particularly older ones – prefer to make their purchases from a local retailer. Getting your services into a store is going to take more than just a few customer requests, but it certainly can’t hurt and serves as validation that folks need and want the product. Even if a customer goes into a store and asks, "Do you carry ______?" it should serve as a red flag and make them question why they don’t have it available. While some retailers may initially bristle at such requests, stocking the product as a response to customer demand not only brings more sales, but also more advertising support, as the manufacturer will actively promote the offering’s availability at their stores directly to consumers.
While it’s true that the brick and mortar retail market for some senior tech products is underserved, it’s not a closed opportunity by any stretch. Showing proof of concept in a personal, meaningful and clear manner will most certainly pay off in the long term.