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Silver Surfers 2.0 as over-55s make permanent switch to online shopping

by on June 21, 2020 in Digital Marketing, Ecommerce, Latest News, Lead Article, Lead story, News you can use, Nuggets, Research, Retail, Retail News

Silver Surfers 2.0 as over-55s make permanent switch to online shopping

Research reveals next wave of digital sales growth in popular retail categories will be driven by older consumers –

More than a third of over-55s say they will permanently switch to online shopping for clothes, food, fitness and gardening equipment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to in-depth research from Rare: Group.

The reluctance to return to the high street, signalling a new boom in the online purchasing habits of Silver Surfers, is revealed in a study of consumers’ changing behaviours and attitudes conducted each week since the start of lockdown.

Some 37% of over-55s who previously shopped in-store for groceries stated their new preference is to buy online, even when it’s declared fully safe to enter stores.

Meanwhile, 38% of this age group admit they would prefer to buy clothes online from now on; for exercise equipment it’s 43%, and even a third want to purchase gardening products via digital channels.

Although the increase in online shopping during lockdown was inevitable, this is the first time the switch in various categories has been quantified by age group.

It’s clear many people across demographics will shun a return to physical stores – heralding a new retail landscape for brands.

As the table below shows, even a sizeable proportion of younger consumers, whose health is not as likely to be affected by the coronavirus, are unwilling to “get out and shop” as recently prompted by the government.


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Other key takeaways include:

  • 1 in 7 grocery shoppers who did so in-store say online is now their preferred channel.

  • Across sectors where people spend time evaluating options before they buy, there is a potential market swing of up to 20% to online. In building supplies and gardening, 1 in 5 people who would normally shop in-store are now claiming they would go online instead.

The research was carried out online in mid-June among a nationally representative panel of 1,000 UK consumers as part of an ongoing study into the effects of coronavirus on our way of life.

Although the focus was on the four categories above, others such as furniture and white goods were also scrutinised, with a predicted switch from in-store to online shopping apparent across the board.

Ben Pask, Managing Director at Rare:, says: “Of those switching from in-store to online shopping, the biggest shift is among those aged 55-plus. The pandemic has prompted the rise of Silver Surfers 2.0.

“This is important. Many brands have been looking to their younger audiences for longer-term growth, building digital products for those who spend more time online.

To now tap into the widely recognised purchasing power of older consumers, they need to build digital experiences that reflect the very different way this audience shops on the internet.

“A key challenge is building customer journeys for an older market who are online less, but when they do log on have tended to spend less time browsing as they ‘know what they like’.

Devising the right ways to engage these people and turn them into long-term customers will be crucial.”


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