Older American's Embrace 'This Online Shopping Thing'

We tend to forget that at one time today’s oldest living generation was once the innovators [of their time]. The trendsetters. The technology disrupters. But, with the accelerating change of technology today's oldest generation might be the most disadvantaged in human history.

According to a recent article published by The Washington Post, “There has been a significant increase in consumers over 50 who had never shopped online and are now saying, ‘Oh wow, this is so much easier than I thought,’" said Deborah Weinswig, chief executive of retail consulting firm Coresight Research. “There’s going to be a lot more mixing and matching: ‘Maybe I want to go to the store to squeeze my own vegetables, but I’ll get non-perishables and dry goods delivered.’”

Photo by Sergey Zolkin


As of January 2021, consumers 65 and older, on average, spent a total of $1,615 online from January through October, a 49 percent increase from a year earlier, making them the fastest-growing cohort of online shoppers, according to NPD Group’s Checkout Tracking, which captures data from consumer receipts both online and in stores. Moreover, the frequency of purchases climbed more than 40 percent.

The Baby boomer generation is frequently viewed as a coveted demographic as they tend to be very loyal consumers with a greater disposable income [compared to younger generations].

So a logical assumption is that older generations simply struggle to keep up with online technology

But this isn't the case at all. 85% of surveyed Baby boomers are actually very comfortable researching products online. Even more surprising, 65% aren't opposed to making a purchase online.

So if shopping online is faster, easier, and more convenient -- what is the leading reason Boomers' still want to shop in-store?

The root of Boomers' brick-and-mortar preference is directly related to their high expectations of customer service

Photo by Clark Street Mercantile

Buy definition, customer service is the support your provide to customers -- both before and after they purchase -- that provides them an easy and enjoyable shopping experience. We often think of customer service as the the process in which we interact with a brand or company after a problem has happened or a purchase question has arisen.

But, if Boomers elect the path that requires more time, energy, and effort maybe the value they are describing isn't customer service at all

Customer service in a true omni channel world means consumers can bi-directionally communicate with brands -- 24 hours a day --7 days a week. Historically bi-directional communication was limited to telephone and email support/service. Today, savvy consumers use the internet, social media channels, text messaging, live chat and interactive consumer knowledge bases to obtain the information they seek.

Today's consumers have an insatiable appetite for information that extends far beyond products they buy. Enter -- Experiential Marketing