Korean Businesses Uninterested in Senior Discount

L.A. CGV theaters is offering a 40 percent discount to seniors aged 60 or older every Wednesday. The response has been immense as 150 to 200 senior citizens on average visit the theaters to take advantage of the discount. Senior consumers are purchasing movie tickets on Oct. 18.

Koreatown in Los Angeles is largely considered a location for consumers. However, not many businesses in town are targeting senior consumers. As the generation of baby boomers are continually retiring, many apparel businesses are investing efforts to attract them, but most are still turning a blind eye to the senior citizens.

The Korea Daily looked through businesses in Koreatown to grasp the current state of how businesses are perceiving senior consumers.

A Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo near downtown in L.A.
Located near a senior apartment, the restaurant is filled with senior citizens on every Tuesday and Wednesday. That is because the restaurant offers 15 percent discount to those 65 or older.

“It’s not really a marketing strategy,” said the business owner. “It’s both a reward and accommodation for the adults of the community who’ve dined out at our restaurant for a long time.” The philosophy behind the discount is that the owner wants to “give back” to the senior citizens.

“On days of the discount, most of the entrees on the menu are designed for senior citizens,” said Thomas Watanabe, 70. “The food is also served in adequate quantity.”

There are many businesses offering senior discounts on certain days. Danny’s offers 15 percent discount along with Outback Steakhouse and Applebee’s, which offer 10 to 15 percent discount every week. Although they realize that they are generating less earning, it is a part of their marketing strategy that is taking the senior citizens of the community into consideration. It is also a plus that the businesses can also establish an image that they are open to rewarding senior citizens.

However, an extensive research by the Korea Daily revealed that only six of 100 Korean-American businesses are offering senior discounts.

Both Bandi Books and SaeJong Book Store are offering 30 percent discount for seniors, while L.A. CGV movie theaters provide a 40 percent discount for seniors aged 60 or older. Hansam-In, a Korean ginseng distributor, also offers 30 percent discount. Orange County-based Grand Motors takes $5 off of rent-a-car deals. At Insan Healing, the new ginseng products are included in a
buy one get one free deal until the end of the month.

Those businesses had a clear purpose for offering senior discounts.
“Although senior consumers do not purchase a large volume of our goods, they are loyal customers and they also have the final say in their household when making a purchase,” said one of the business owners. “This is an important marketing link.”

However, 90 of the 100 businesses admitted that they will not consider offering a senior discount in the future.

Even hospitals, pharmacies, dental clinics and travel agencies, all of which are frequently used by senior consumers, did not offer such a deal.

Many of the businesses suggested that the current discount deals they offer to other consumer groups are enough for them to remain viable. Some said that senior consumers do not purchase a high volume, while others went on to say that they would be better off targeting consumers in their 40s and 50s.

An optician’s shop on Olympic Boulevard recently scrapped its senior discount after offering it for the last three years as they deemed it to be “ineffective.” It explained that the response to the discount deal was not up to its expectations.

For many businesses, offering a discount deal when their viability still remains uncertain in the long term is burdensome.

Meanwhile, three to four businesses did express an interest in offering senior discounts, but said that they are reluctant as to how they should go about making it accessible.

“We’re concerned that it may create a division among our customer base,” said an owner of a health product business. “It’s also difficult to set a standard for such a discount deal.”

By Brian Choi