Senior spotlight: Tetra Pak taps into what beverage makers should know about this key generation

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Tetra Pak identified the most important packaging features that appeal to seniors worldwide.
Tetra Pak identified the most important packaging features that appeal to seniors worldwide.

Related tags Tetra pak Milk functional beverage beverage

For the latest edition of Tetra Pak’s annual Consumer Generations Whitepaper series, the packaging giant interviewed more than 40,000 people and gathered insights from 27 different developed and developing countries, and found that the senior population (aged 60 years and older) is the fastest growing consumer group in the world. 

According to the United Nations, more than 22% of the world’s population will be over the age of 60 by 2050, compared to 8% today.

“Seniors spend 20% of their income on food and beverages. They have more disposable income than previous generations, and are poised to become one of the most important consumer groups over the next decade with a total spending power of US$10 trillion by 2020. This creates a huge opportunity for manufacturers to respond to their needs,” ​LibbyCostin, Tetra Pak VP of global marketing said.

Packaging matters

Features such as a sloped top and larger cap make for ease of opening and pouring, Costin said. 

The packaging industry plays a vital role in meeting seniors’ product needs, and Tetra Pak found the top challenges seniors cited when purchasing products is difficulty opening and manipulating packages, 

Tetra Pak VP of consumer insights Lynn Phillips told DairyReporter that it is more challenging for seniors to generate the necessary force to open packages and that prices, labels, and directions are often difficult to read - even with glasses. 

“An 80-year-old woman averages half the grip strength of a 30-year-old woman,”​ Phillips said.

A key element of an easy-to-open package is a cap size of the proper height and width to avoid slipping from a senior’s hands.

Other positive packaging attributes Tetra Pak identified include: larger and brighter text and images on the label, lightweight yet durable materials to enable easy holding and prevent spillage, and a longer shelf life to cut down on trips to the grocery store.

What this means for dairy manufacturers

Most older consumers find the concept of food and drinks that are naturally high in nutrients more appealing than younger adults do, so the opportunity for milk products is higher than other beverage categories as they meet the needs of an older consumer.

“Nowhere is the opportunity for food and beverage more effectively to target seniors greater than with milk,”​ the company said in its annual whitepaper.

Tetra Pak found that 50% of baby boomers (those born before 1960) are fighting the physical signs of aging, and 70% are fighting the mental signs of aging.

For manufacturers to target seniors more effectively, Tetra Pak recommends that they should better highlight the natural health benefits of milk and fortified dairy beverages, promoting the use of calcium to strengthen bones as well as vitamin B2 to maintain good nerve function. They should also highlight whenever possible the local origin of the product.

In addition, many producers are seeing growing success in “value-added milk,”​ with healthy supplements included or otherwise tailored to specific needs.

For example, producers have seen growing sales of milk products that have anti-oxidants. At the same time, products that remove certain ingredients such as fat or lactose are also growing in popularity.

Tetra Pak found that seniors are quality driven consumers and are willing to pay a premium price if it’s associated with a higher quality product.

According to the company, there is also a higher sense of brand loyalty among senior consumers. 

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