Senior Citizen Ecommerce Habits in 2018

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

Senior citizens are often written off as a tech-phobic demographic that eCommerce retailers can’t reach. Companies avoid marketing to senior citizens and are convinced that social media, mobile content, and eCommerce is just beyond their reach. New data shows that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Senior citizen eCommerce participants will have a significant impact on your business in the coming years. You can learn to appreciate and market to this demographic, or you could be left running to catch up with them over the next decade.

Check out these five senior citizen eCommerce and internet usage trends to understand how older people spend money online.

Senior Citizens Are Increasingly Tech-Friendly?

While there is some truth that older people are less tech savvy and don’t use the internet as often as younger generations, adoption rates continue to climb. As of 2016, roughly 75% of adults over the age of 75 go on the internet each day. Furthermore, 82% of adults age 65-69 use the internet daily, and 75%, compared to 44% of adults over 80. Daily internet use continues to decline as senior citizens age, but the decline isn’t as rapid or dramatic as most people think.

Your senior citizen eCommerce customers look a lot like your millenial and Gen X shoppers. When asked what they do online, 82% of older adults say they use search engines and 69% use social media daily.

Video content is also just as popular among older adults as their younger counterparts. More than half of older internet users watch video content daily, and 75% of adults have taken action based on a video.

If you have avoided certain marketing tactics because of age and other demographic concerns, you may need to rethink your efforts to cater to active senior citizens in your area.  

Older Adults Impact Ecommerce Trends

When you look at the modern eCommerce market, you can’t ignore older shoppers. According to BigCommerce and Frost Investment Advisors, senior citizens make up 28% of the population that participates in eCommerce purchases. Additionally, baby boomers make up 41% of the eCommerce market. These boomers, typically age 65-74, have seen an average 25% increase in their overall income since 2001. Millennials, by contrast, have seen an average 18% decrease in their income and spending power.

This isn’t to say that brands targeting younger customers need to adjust their marketing strategy, but rather that promoting eCommerce content to older adults isn’t a toxic business decision. Senior citizens are proficient eCommerce users and have the buying power to shop on a regular basis.

The Older Population Will Continue to Grow

If you have overlooked senior citizens as a demographic in the past, it may be time to adjust your eCommerce strategy in the future. The United States Census predicts that old people over the age of 65 will outnumber children under the age of 18 by the year 2035. By 2030, one in five American residents will be of retirement age.

As older generations expand, so will their knowledge of technology. By 2035, people currently in their 40s will be approaching retirement age. These people include early adopters of the internet, who will have used the web for several decades by the time they retire. Even people who are in their 40s now who aren’t avid internet users will have almost 20 years to get onboard with eCommerce.

Senior Citizens Want A Different Online Experience

Older adults taking a larger share of the online shopping market doesn’t necessarily mean the items offered by various companies will change. Instead, there will be a slow shift to adjust the buying experience to cater to these buyers.

In Australia, Commonwealth Bank released a report explaining how the shopping experience varies between older adults and younger ones. The highlights include:

  • Older shoppers still prefer brick and mortar locations so they can touch and try the items before they buy them, but can switch to online shopping for staple items.  
  • Senior citizens want information up front about what they are buying. This includes tax and shipping costs, as well as any limits or important knowledge about the items.
  • Senior citizens want an easy shopping experience. When they get frustrated, they will find another channel.
  • Trust is important in the eCommerce process for customers of all ages, but especially for older people.

Understanding these soft character traits of your older customers can help you understand why they don’t buy from you, and how you can make adjustments to help them.

Match Your Web Design with Senior Citizen Ecommerce Habits

While senior citizens are more likely to use the web than you might think, they tend to operate at a slower pace than younger users. For example, they are 40% slower on average at completing web tasks, and are more likely to give up on a task that they find difficult. The blog eCommerce guide created a list of ways marketers can make their website more senior-friendly, to cater to older users without infantilizing them. A few examples include:

  • Avoid small font sizes, and make it easy to adjust the font sizes on your current site.
  • Make sure there is a significant contrast between website colors.
  • Simplify forms and use tools like autocomplete and autocorrect.
  • Avoid rollover items. Adults with motor problems could have a hard time keeping their mouse stable as they navigate your pages.  
  • Optimize for tablets and mobile devices. Older adults are more likely to use tablets for their online usage.

Some of these tips are basic web design best practices to begin with. You don’t really have to change your strategy to accommodate older adults. Anyone, regardless of age, will get annoyed and give up if your website is confusing or doesn’t work on mobile.

Create a Senior Citizen Ecommerce Strategy

Contact Trinity Insight if you want to tap into the senior citizen market and develop a marketing strategy to reach older adults. We can work with you to identify target demographics, market to baby boomers on their terms, and grow your senior sales. Call us today for a free consultation and website review.  

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