Did you know that nearly twenty percent of senior citizens buy groceries on the Internet and that almost twenty-five percent purchase vacations online? According to a recent report by Callcredit Information Group, older people are actually more likely to shop online in many sectors than their younger counterparts.
As Callcredit business-development manager Ben Allott notes in the study:
Consumers are adopting increasingly complex shopping behaviors to get what they want and many are now combining offline with online shopping. What is surprising about our findings is the shift in age groups shopping online, with the older generation embracing online shopping scoring higher when purchasing groceries, holidays and airline tickets over younger consumers.
Senior citizens are using the Internet at ever-increasing rates. In just one example, they are the fastest-growing demographic on Facebook. If your company’s product or service caters to an older population, then your online marketing and customer service will need to appeal to the characteristics of this particular audience. Here, we wanted to give you a few tips that you may want to keep in mind.
First, Mike McCann writes at Global Business Café that senior citizens want information quickly and concisely:
Forget the flowery phrases, cute word plays and fast-action ads. Senior citizens want to know the facts and what benefits those facts will provide for them. Your products and services are just the carrier of benefits, not benefits in themselves.
Just as your marketing will need to be simple and direct, so will your customer support need to contain “just the facts” when you are communicating with Baby Boomers and older generations. Leave the flashy graphics and advertisements for those websites that are targeting younger people, and focus on concise and informative text that explains how your offer will directly benefit the reader. In your website’s customer service section, do not “oversell” – just answer any possible concerns thoroughly.
Second, Nancy Friedman suggests at Networking Today that companies and their websites need to be patient and slower with older readers. While people under thirty five have shorter and shorter attention spans, senior citizens did not have multimedia and the Internet for most of their lives. As a result, a quick, overwhelming call to action that tries to push senior citizens down the sales funnel will turn them off (especially since they are very wary of potential scams). Instead, walk them through your offer slowly but confidently while answering any possible questions along the way. Younger people make decisions quickly today; older people do not.
Third, Chintan Bharwada gives many additional points at Loyalty & Customers including these:
- Images of people. Conventional wisdom states that people respond well to advertisements that contain people who are like them. But that is not actually the case for the older generation. People do not want to be reminded that they are “old,” so they respond the best to those who are roughly ten to fifteen years younger. So, in your online marketing and website design, keep this in mind when you select images and graphics.
- Practicality. Young people, to varying degrees, care about what others think. They buy clothes and music based on what is popular. Senior citizens, however, mainly care about a product or service’s logical benefit. “Bells and whistles” and appeals to trends in your marketing and customer service will not get them to buy.
- Personal service. Impatient young people often buy “off the cuff” and do not take the time to research and request information. Older people are more hesitant and are therefore more likely to make direct inquiries first. So, make sure that your website offers an easy way to respond to questions, and provide a way to get immediate answers from a real person. Senior citizens still appreciate face-to-face contact.
As Allott notes in the Callcredit report:
Changes in society and technology are having a big impact on buyer behavior and for retailers embracing technology and big data assets is a must if they want to acquire new customers, reach reactivate lapsers or retain and grow current relationships and compete against their competitors.
Older people are indeed not immune to changes in technology. As more and more senior citizens move online as the population ages, your company will need to interact with them appropriately in marketing and customer service contexts.
After all, Baby Boomers are the generation with the greatest purchasing power. If you do not market to them (assuming your product or service is relevant) in the optimal way and ensure that your customer service solution is responsive to their needs, you will miss out on a potentially-lucrative audience.