Scooters, lift chairs top wish lists

Friday, November 30, 2007

HOLLISTER, Calif. - What to buy the senior who has everything? How about home medical equipment, suggests Brannons Medical. The provider recently polled customers, asking them to rank products and the decisions that drove those purchases.
"We were getting baby boomers coming in and buying mom and dad gifts and decided to try to crack that," said Greg McMorrow, executive vice president.
The top three choices: accessorized his and her scooters, reclining lift chairs with heated massage and lightweight companion chairs.
"Obviously, price is an obstacle," said McMorrow. "Lift chairs were at the top, but (at a cost of around $1,000), it was the one they took the longest to pull the trigger on. They are willing to fork out the money for a companion chair. It's almost an impulse item."
Listening to what customers have to say is key to the company's success, said McMorrow. Brannons' San Jose flagship store opened in 1969, while the Hollister location opened in September. The 1,800-square-foot space offers retail items along with sleep and home oxygen. Business so far has been ahead of expectations, said McMorrow.
"We educate patients and customers when they come in," he said. "It doesn't matter if they buy it from us, but we believe they will choose us."
Tapping baby boomers is an excellent way to grow business, said industry consultant Ty Bello.
"Every day this year, 7,918 boomers turn 65," he said. "Do you think they care what Medicare will or won't reimburse for mom? If I have to put a rollator on a credit card, I will."
Currently, cash makes up 10% of Brannons' sales, but "baby boomers are going to change everything they touch," McMorrow said.