Change is coming and your business needs to adapt

One of the memorable lines that Sherlock Holmes says in the 2009 film  is “data, data, data, I must have more data!” I was reminded of this line when the Local Shop Summit key note speaker, John Stanley  said that by 2018 the population age group ratio will shift significantly. He called it the 2018 time bomb!

“Many retailers are afraid to work outside of their comfort zone,” retail guru Mr Stanley told the 300 independents at the Local Shop Summit. “But you have to break the chains that bind you to the past.”

Local Shop SummitEvery week 10 news and convenience stores go out of business, Mr Stanley “If you stick to your original business model, it could be you next”.

Retailing will change more in the next five years than we have ever seen in our lifetimes, he said. To be successful, today’s independents need to use social media, promote their communities and encourage staff to be “day makers”

I thought that his proposition needed some more investigation so I have looked at the demographic data from the England and Wales 2011 census that is available on the Office for National Statistics website. Using the national data for the population of each year group and shifting it by 7 years illustrates John’s message. There are going to be fewer consumers who are under 50 years old and more over 50. The baby boomer generation, people born during the two decades after the Second World War are now in this older age group!

His key message about this dynamic demographic shift is that the over 50’s have different spending needs than younger people. In his book Just about everything a retail manager needs to know he devotes the first chapter to winning customers and covers the differences in approach needed to make the most each age group.

John’s message was quite clear, if you want your business to stay relevant to the changing needs of your ‘ageing’ customers you need to start planning to change now. After all, this demographic change is already beginning to happen.

PS there is enough data here to satisfy the appetite of almost any retailer who wants to know about demographic change.


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