Silver surfers: The future of eCommerce?

The ‘typical’ eCommerce shopper is older than you might think. According to the Futures Company’s Global MONITOR research, 60% of consumers 50+ globally say they’ve purchased a product or service online, compared to 51% of 16-34s, and 56% of 35-49s. This finding is true across most of Asia – In most of the markets we survey in the region, 50+’s are as likely as, if not more likely than, younger consumers, to shop online.

Three factors seem to contribute to older consumers’ greater propensity for online shopping:

  • Nearly half of consumers 50+ say they’re more likely to stick to products and brands that they’ve used before, than to try new ones. Among younger consumers, just one-third are more likely to stick to the tried and tested, than to experiment with unfamiliar products and brands.
  • Connected to this, older consumers are also more pricethan brandmotivated. Sixty per cent are more likely to shop on the basis of price than brand, vs. 54% among younger consumers.
  • Finally, older consumers are also more likely than their juniors to be searching for ways to simplify their lives: 73% of 50+’s globally endorse this statement, vs. 68% of younger consumers.

The older shopper is therefore more of a searcher than a browser: They tend to know what they’re looking for, and go to market searching for the best deal on that specific item, rather than browsing the alternatives in the hope of discovering something new and different. Shopping online saves them the effort of comparing prices across different retailers.

In the future, it’s going to be increasingly important to consider the older consumer – the silver surfer – in eCommerce strategies. Firstly, there are just going to be more of them. With few exceptions, populations around the world are ageing.  By 2050, there will be more people aged over 65 in the world, than children under the age of 14. Within the same time frame, the number of people aged 85+ globally will quadruple to 395mn.

Beyond this, older consumers will increasingly become the key targets within digital channels. A report by TGI International shows that “while younger generations are the first to embrace new digital technologies, once these enter the mainstream the real driving force behind growth is adoption by older generations. These groups have the added appeal of higher levels of disposable income, and increasing size as life expectancy grows.

What does this all mean for businesses? If your brand targets older consumers, don’t forget to think about eCommerce as a channel, and digital media in general as a way of driving purchase. And no matter who you’re targeting today, start thinking about older consumers and how you can meet their changing needs, both online and off.

For more on different aspects of commerce, head to our Continuous Commerce™ site.

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