Drink and vitamins top over-60s shopping list

Wine tops the bill for many older households Keystone

Older consumers in Switzerland spend more money on a cocktail of alcohol and health products than younger people, according to a retail survey.

This content was published on July 7, 2006 minutes

The study found that shoppers aged over 60 accounted for half the total spent on table wine despite representing less than a third of all households polled.

The surprising results follow recent government statistics that predict the number of people aged over 65 in Switzerland will nearly double by 2050, representing 27 per cent of the population.

If this projection is realised then the older generation will become an increasingly significant consumer group for retailers.

Market research company IHA-GfK polled 2,250 households representing all age groups, asking them to fill out a detailed weekly diary of what items they bought on their shopping trips last year.

The survey found that the older generation surprisingly spent more than the average household on alcoholic drinks, filling their shopping baskets with more wine, spirits and aperitifs than younger people.

In contrast, they also bought more vitamins, healthy soups and anti-ageing cosmetics such as face creams. Chocolate, tea, coffee, vinegar, oils and butter were also popular items.

But frozen meats and poultry did not find their way onto many shopping lists of older customers. Neither did cereals and snack foods - usually targeted at younger consumers.

Buy locally

The over-60s spend more on clothing and shoes but make fewer purchases, the study found. It also showed that this age group prefers to buy locally at independent shops rather than at chain stores or through mail order catalogues.

The one supermarket they do favour is Denner, ahead of larger rivals Migros and Coop. This could be put down to the fact that Denner stocks a wide range of alcoholic drinks, according to IHA-GfK director Thomas Hochreutener.

He also believes retailers should pay more attention to this increasingly important group of consumers.

"It is clear that a lot of retailers are looking for younger customers, but they should be thinking more about the older consumers," he told swissinfo.

"It seems clear that in years to come they will make up a larger section of the population and will become a more interesting market for retailers."

swissinfo, Matthew Allen

Key facts

IHA-Gfk survey findings:
The over-60 bracket represented 29% of the total respondents and 26% of the total money spent.
This group accounted for 50% of the total spend on table wine, 43% on aperitifs and 32% on spirits.
They were prepared to pay 94% more than the average respondent for women's clothes, 65% extra for coats, and 64% more for pullovers and t-shirts.

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In brief

According to the latest research from the Federal Statistics Office the Swiss population is expected to peak at 8.2 million in 2036 before falling to 8.1 in 2050.

The number of people aged 65 and over will increase by 90% in the same period to 2.2 million people - or 27% of the population compared with 21.5% at present.

In 2005 average life expectancy in Switzerland for men was 78.7 years and 83.9 years for women - slightly up on previous years.

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