Half of all older shoppers think retailers don’t value their age group, study finds

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Half of all older shoppers say retailers don’t think their age group is important, and only one in five agree retailers value their age group because they have more time and money, according to a report from Shoppercentric, an independent agency specialising in shopper research.

Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric, said: “Older shoppers are feeling very much out in the cold – a shame given that they have a real desire to shop (43% of 60+ year olds say they often go to the shops just to have a look around, more than any other age group over 40). There’s clearly a simmering frustration of not being persuaded to spend their money.” The research entitled: “WindowOn…The new generation of older shoppers” challenges the perception of what is considered an ‘older shopper’ and looks at purchasing trends amongst this group.  

Key findings:

1.   When it comes to shopping, age is just a state of mind:

  • 43% of 70-79 year olds shop in-store at least every couple of days – the exact same figure as 18-29 year olds; they might not use forecourts, malls or retail parks as often as younger shoppers, but they are just as likely to regularly use newsagents, supermarkets, high streets and independents
  • The older shopper is more purposive than younger shoppers – tending to know what to buy before reaching the store, rather than using the displays for ideas and preferring to get shopping done as efficiently as possible

2.   Older shoppers get surfing too:

Access:

  • 62% of 50+ year olds have internet access at home
  • 39% percent of 60+ year olds now own a smartphone and 21% of 70-79 year olds own a tablet
  • 14% of 80+ year olds who are online have tablets too

Usage:

  • One in three shoppers over 60 agree with the statement “I can’t imagine my life without the internet”.
  • Over a quarter of online shoppers aged 60-69 say they will use their mobile devices more often for shopping in the future.
  • 55% of online shoppers aged 60-69 and 51 percent of those aged 70-79 say they use the internet at least once a week for browsing.
  • Only a quarter of those browsing are likely to go on to buy online (just 12% of 60-69 year old online shoppers buy online at least once a week versus a peak of 38% among 40-49 year olds).

3.   Characterising the older shopper today:

Spending time:

  • Three out of four older shoppers agree that they are “enjoying time to do what they have always wanted” whilst one in two agree they “worry less about money as they have fewer responsibilities”. It’s this more relaxed attitude to time and money that makes them a lucrative market.

Attracting their attention:

  • 74% of 60-69 year olds say they “love finding bargains for the things I want to buy”
  • It’s not all about cheap prices – older shoppers take a long term view of their spending, often aiming at quality, not quantity: 68% of 60-69 year olds agree “I buy the best I can afford, even if it’s not the cheapest price”, whereas only 13% of 70-79 year olds agree “I tend to buy the cheapest so I can buy more”.
  • Lowest price messaging doesn’t to appeal to the majority of older shoppers. Value is more than low price for these shoppers, and retailers and brands need to present a value story that is relevant to them in order to meet their needs.
  • Older shoppers are thoughtful and understand how their spending can make an impact. They like to support their High Street, even if there is a ‘cost’ involved. They are also the age group most likely to look for ethical products and to buy local produce.

“Essentially it has become clear that lumping anyone over 60 years of age into an older shopper category is doing them a disservice,” said Pinnington. “A significant proportion of over 60s are behaving and sounding very like much younger shoppers so with that in mind, it’s time to challenge the retail tradition of an age related cut off point. With older shoppers having more money and time available than ever before, and being as savvy and demanding as other shopper groups, it’s important that we change the way that we think of these shoppers and stop forcing them into out-of-date stereotypes. Our report introduces today’s Older Shoppers, and examines what this generation can bring to a retail store, category or brand.” “It’s not only in-store where retailers are struggling to connect with older shoppers. Older shoppers are using the internet for browsing primarily at present – but with support and reassurance retailers could convert these clicks into sales. Clearly there is a fundamental lack of trust and confidence in the purchase process with fears of credit card fraud and also overly technical processes that they aren’t comfortable with. Retailers must work through these issues and be aware of the range of confidence, the variation in use and acceptance of the internet amongst older shoppers. It’s important that they don’t ignore the opportunity that older online shoppers represent, but equally don’t attempt to force older shoppers into behaviours they’re not comfortable with. “Ultimately, retailers need to take the blinkers off and start looking at 60+ year olds as a golden opportunity of spending power, not just a group of shoppers with poor eye-sight and stiff limbs. In many categories they don’t need to be marketed to any differently from younger generations. However, they do need to feel loved, and as a growing group of cash-rich and time-rich shoppers, feeling the love could be very lucrative. It’s time retailers and brands fully recognised and addressed the needs of this new generation of older shoppers, and put old fashioned notions and stereotypes of OAPs out to pasture.”