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Retailers struggle to connect with older consumers, online and off: study

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Retailers are struggling to connect with older consumers, who say they feel left “out in the cold” despite having more time and money than ever before, according to new research.

A Shoppercentric study, WindowOn… the new generation of older shoppers, found one in three shoppers aged over 60 would agree with the statement, “I can’t imagine my life without the internet.” Three out of four say they now have time to do what they have always wanted while one in two say they worry less about money as they have fewer responsibilities. Some 43% of those aged 60 and above say they often go to the shops just to look round – more than any other age group aged 40 and above.

But despite this, said Shoppercentric managing director Danielle Pinnington, older shoppers still feel undervalued by retailers. “Sadly our research revealed that one in two older shoppers agree that retailers don’t think their age group is important, and only one in five agree that retailers value their age group because they have more time and money,” said Pinnington. “In short, older shoppers are feeling very much out in the cold – a shame given that they have a real desire to shop. There’s clearly a simmering frustration of not being persuaded to spend their money.”

Some 62% of those aged 50 and above have internet access at home, the study found, while 39% of those aged 60 and above own a smartphone and 21% of 70 to 79-year-olds have a tablet, along with 14% of those aged 80 and above.

More than a quarter of online shoppers aged between 60 and 69 say they will shop via mobile more often in future, while 55% of online shoppers aged 60 to 69, and 51% of those aged 70 to 79 say they browse online at least once a week. However, only a quarter of those browsing online are likely to take the step to buy online, and only 12% of 60 to 69-year-olds buy online at least once a week. That compares with 38% of 40 to 40-year-olds.

“It’s not only instore where retailers are struggling to connect with older shoppers,” said Pinnington. “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.”

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