Can e-commerce target the older population?

E-commerce seems synonymous with the youth and the technologically savvy, leaving those who are unfamiliar with the ever-changing interface in the dust. However, as the purchasing power shifts from the older generations to young xadults and teenagers, the market has evolved to provide for increasing demand of the internet dependent youth. Online markets are continually transforming to accommodate new and innovative methods of payment, customer service, product displays and marketing that differ from those of the past that depend on physical stores and face-to-face human interaction. As a result, many believe that the older generation that are accustomed to these practices would be unable to embrace these new changes. Therefore, many companies that target the older generation may be reluctant to set up online businesses as they believe the platform would be redundant in reaching their specific audience. However, this may not ring entirely true when a majority of the spending power remains with the population aged 55 and above.

Here are some statistics :

While millennials and Gen X-ers spend, on average, 6 hours a week shopping online, Baby Boomers 4 hours, only 2 hours less!

  • Parents spend 61% more online than non-parents.
  • 44% of Seniors shop at ‘category-specific online stores’ compared to 39% of Baby Boomers, 37% of Gen X-ers and 29% of Millennials.
  • More than half of Baby Boomers and Seniors spend on large retailer sites with 74% and 66% respectively.

Although a significant percentage of the online market is dominated by Millennials and Gen X-ers, Baby Boomers and Seniors spend a considerable amount through online shopping. However, since these age groups tend to spend most on ‘category-specific online stores’, products should be geared exclusively toward the older generations to increase sales. This is evidenced by the fact that only 14% of Baby Boomers and 3% of Seniors would shop over social media in comparison to 51% of Millennials and 36% of Gen X-ers. Therefore product specific sites should be more suitable for shoppers from the older generation instead of social sites that are wide ranging. In 2015, research found that Baby Boomers were planning to interact more with ads and spend through mobile devices. So, although a majority of the online shopping population are Millennials, a significant proportion of the sending power is retained and increasing within the Gen X, Baby Boomer and Senior age groups and companies demonstrate that e-commerce can target the older population and expand past physical marketplaces.