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Targeting older generations through e-commerce
E‐Commerce » Trends | 22.04.2015

Reaching the older generations through e-commerce


Millennials – those aged in their 20s and 30s – are often the favoured target for e-commerce retailers. After all, they are more tech savvy, accustomed to the internet and trust the online shopping process to a greater extent. But what about older generations who have more cash to spare?

The over 60s are the fastest growing consumer group in the world, and by the 2050s, they will account for more than a third of the adult populations of Spain, Germany, Japan, Italy and Russia.

40% of the total consumer spend is from buyers over 50...

Lower the age slightly, and, according to Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing, consumer spending among the over 50s in the UK is already £260bn a year – or 40% of total consumer spend. Yet, it continues, they only receive around 10% of the marketing focus.

And this isn’t just an oversight in the UK – a recent report from Forrester, “The Future of Shopping”, also urges retailers in the US to do more to court older shoppers, to reflect the shift in spending power away from millennials.

Grey potential

But before retailers rush to target this growing and relatively untapped opportunity, it makes sense to look at how many older consumers are interested in technology, let alone shopping online.
According to Google’s Consumer Barometer 2014, the proportion of those aged over the age of 55 going online daily ranges from 65% in Germany and 66% in the US, to 70% or just over in the UK, Spain and France. Of those markets, the percentage researching or buying online was highest in the UK at 53% and 46% respectively, and then France, at 51% and 34%.
In Norway, 10% used tablets to buy goods online, as did 7% in the US and 5% in the UK – although purchases via smartphone fell away, with highs of only 4% in Spain and the US.

They are not particularly price sensitive...

So how do you sell to them?

Even if so-called “silver surfers” are happier using bigger screens, there’s clearly an appetite to cater to – and that will only grow as people become more confident with e-commerce, and the audience that has grown up with technology ages too.

But the experts are united in their advice: don’t treat the over 50s as if they are all the same. It’s a big and complex group, with different interests, different opinions and differing abilities.

There are some defining characteristics though. AT Kearney, for example, says that the majority seek quality products, are loyal to brands and are not particularly price sensitive. According to Nielsen, they also have more time to spend on their hobbies and interests.

Asendia tip

In general, the main rules of e-commerce apply – don’t make assumptions about your audience and make the effort to get to know your older customers. As the world’s population ages, there should be plenty of opportunity to reap the rewards.

– The over 50s are not just one target group – adapt your offer and
– Quality comes before price
– Bigger screens are preferred



Online habits of the over 55s

  Going online daily Researching products online Shopping online
France 73% 51% 34%
Spain 71% 46% 27%
UK 70% 53% 46%
Germany 65% 43% 32%
US 66% 42% 25%


Source: Google’s Consumer Barometer 2014