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Retailing: Brands must gear up for older consumers

Brands have spent the past year consolidating in a tough environment as Irish consumers have been forced to tighten their belts.

But there is evidence to suggest that the marketplace will grow steadily over the next decade, despite media attention to the contrary and the foundations for a brand to succeed need to be considered now to make the most of that growth.

Richard Colwell, of Red C research, said CSO analysis of population in Ireland suggests that current high levels of emigration are mainly among those who had migrated to Ireland for work in the first place, with inward migration still taking place.

Ireland is also experiencing a major baby boom, with a 22pc increase in babies born every year here between 2006 and 2010 -- while the life expectancy of Irish adults is increasing.

The trend suggests that despite more emigration from Ireland, the population will continue to grow steadily over the next 10 years.

Estimates by the CSO suggest the population could soar to as high as 5.4 million by 2020. This is an extra one million consumers based compared to today -- a 23pc increase in the available consumer market.

"While Ireland has a younger profile than other countries in Europe, brands need to be mindful the baby boom doesn't mask the fact that this increasing population is also ageing," Colwell told Campaign Brief.

The rate of people aged over 60 is due to increase from 15pc to 20pc by 2020.

That means an extra 400,000 people aged over 60 in the next decade, with almost half of the population 40 or older by 2020. So brands will need to consider the increased demand coming from more mature consumers and exactly what this means for them.

In food retailing, the change in population behaviour is likely to result in a further shift towards convenience shopping and meals for one or two.

It will lead to smaller basket sizes and a need for offers that specifically target older age groups.

Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie magazine; cullen@marketing.ie