Tuesday, November 2, 2010 - As printed in South Shore Senior News

The Perfect Gift: Making It Easier To Give and Receive

Age Stage: Understanding the Changing Lifestyes of Boomers & Seniors

Finding the perfect holiday gift for older friends or family can be a challenge. Whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, or other special occasions, shoppers all face the same dilemma: what do you give that’s thoughtful and practical, yet says “I love you”, especially for someone who probably already has everything he or she needs? This time of year, as I start thinking about what to give my mother and in-laws, I wish it could be as easy as when my kids were little. Then, all I had to do was go to a toy store and select an age-appropriate gift. Instead, being a holiday hero for the seniors on my list takes time and creativity.

My partners at Gen-Sights and I think some of this is because retailers and service providers have yet to embrace the value of marketing their wares to the older demographic of 65 to 85 and up, despite increasing numbers and spending power. Considering that the first group of 78 million Baby Boomers turns 65 in 2011, we can only hope that this will change. There are products targeted to children, teens, expectant mothers, homeowners, crafters, handymen, etc., yet when it comes to older consumers, if advertising is any guide, it seems there’s nothing out there, short of medical products and devices.

The fact is that there are products and services that would make great gifts for this demographic. All it takes is a little thinking outside the traditional holiday gift box. Here are a few ideas that Laura, Lynn, and I came up with, just to get you thinking:
• A kitchen or hardware store promoting a gift package of assorted gadgets that are ergonomically designed to address the physical limitations of aging hands and fingers.
• A health club offering a gift certificate for some low-impact exercise classes or training sessions that would ease aching joints?
If you’re a retail store, you might package together some electronics to help the family stay connected, particularly during those long winter months when it's difficult to get out. Or put together a gift basket of brain-stimulating games and puzzles.
• Personal chefs or meal service providers could offer a selection of healthy, home-style meals that have been pre-cooked and frozen for easy reheating.
• A home healthcare agency could offer gift certificates for monthly light cleaning services. Homecare providers or facilities could even put a list of common useful items together and send it as a mailing to family members, for that added level of service.

When you start thinking about it, the list of potential gift ideas for seniors is practically endless; you only need to look at what you sell and determine how your products and services can best be bundled and positioned. Look for gift ideas that fill a need that almost any recipient would like, yet might not think to ask for. You’ll be providing a great service for gift-givers – and helping your business at the same time. One thing to keep in mind: just don’t position your gift ideas as Senior Citizen Specials. Great gifts are ageless!

South Shore Senior News

    -posted by Laura Willis