Posted in on October 10, 2013

More Insights from Retail for Developers of Active Adult and Senior Living Communities

Market Force’s annual survey on fashion retailers certainly made us take notice—our favorite stores were right up on top of their list. And we weren’t surprised that a major reason was their customer-centric focus. Yesterday’s post noted several ways active adult and senior housing communities incorporated customer-centric approaches in their marketing . They know baby boomers and older adults are savvy shoppers (not just for shoes but for where they want to live).

Here are three more insights from leading retailers that active adult and senior living developers can apply to their efforts:

1. Share & Tell trumps Show & Sell. Fairing Way on the South Shore of Boston is pre-selling their 55+ community from a double-wide trailer and found a way to Fairing Way's future residents (over 55 homebuyers) gather for a cooking event.incorporate a full-size kitchen to show customers just how well it functions. To really drive home the point, they host cooking demonstrations to give depositors and prospective residents a fun—and tasty—time . People love interacting with the chefs and the other guests about the food and the community.

Nordstrom’s events and parties also help their customers meet others who share their passion whether its for make-up or a particular designer. These types of interactions offer very personalized touchpoints and help customers and prospective residents alike to relate and connect with your community in a unique fun-focused vs. sales-focused way.

2. A custom fit. Chicago’s Presbyterian Homes has been dedicated to a person-centered approach for over 100 years, and knows that one size does not fit all. Their staff happily takes one resident past two beauty salons to get to the one she prefers— just because that’s important to her.

This is not unlike a Nordstrom salesperson who personally escorts you to the shoe department if that is where you want to go. And they do it with a smile on their face.

Traditions of America events for over 55 home buyers.3. Trials are good for customers AND retailers and homebuilders. Traditions of America’s Live Better Now events feature residents who happily talk to guests about the model type they had built, the friends they’ve made and the trips they’ve taken with neighbors. Customers can also stay at the community’s Guest Home as a way to try before they buy.

Is there a retail comparison? Personally, I don’t know of a store out there that encourages customers to wear their merchandise for a week without buying it first but both Nordstrom’s and Kohl’s return policies are very consumer-friendly. They acknowledge that a jacket you thought would be perfect with a favorite pair of pants might clash when you put them next to each other.

Try before you buy? Not quite but their Facebook pages are filled with customer testimonials on products and service at both of these customer service focused retailers.


What lessons do you think over 55 housing can learn from America’s top retailers? Share your insights and comments below.

RELATED: Part 1 – What Over 55 Housing Can Learn From Nordstrom

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