Sogo and Seibu department stores have begun arranging sales floors to appeal to baby boomers in order to meet the needs of the changing marketplace.

Millenium Retailing Inc., which owns Sogo Co. and Seibu Department Stores Ltd., uses mannequins with pot bellies and flabby arms and has placed adjustable lighting in fitting rooms to make them more comfortable for the middle-aged and elderly.

The Tokyo-based retailer came up with the plan after conducting surveys of customers and residents living near their stores.

One of the findings of the survey was that people aged 50 and over accounted for 35 percent of Sogo’s customers and 25 percent of Seibu’s customers in one district where the retailer had been targeting young people, officials said.

“Having an image that we are sensitive to fashion and young people has turned out to be harmful,” said one official.

Millenium Retailing is trying to develop products aimed exclusively at baby boomers, such as pants that look slimming.

Cosmetics manufacturers have also changed strategies. One example is Kose Corp. that has begun to market products for women in their 50s. Cosmetics makers’ strategy until now has been to encourage older women to buy products for younger women.

Baby boomers — with their money and time — will change the nature of consumption, analysts say. People in their 50s and 60s have less financial burdens as their children become independent and they near retirement.

Twenty percent of men who bought high-end BMW motorcycles are aged 50 or older, according to a sales agent at BMW Japan.

The company rolled out the R1200GS motorcycle at a price of 1.974 million yen in April. Although it costs as much as a car, sales have been favorable.

“There are more cases of people buying them to realize their long-cherished dreams,” a BMW official said.

Other businesses are also trying to get the attention of baby boomers — customers who are said to have discriminating tastes when it comes to shopping.

Department store Isetan began selling clothes to women in their 50s and 60s in August. A jacket sells for 59,000 yen to 79,000 yen, higher than the usual price of 20,000 yen to 40,000 yen because high-grade materials are used.

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