Despite boasting a relatively large disposable income, silver surfers (consumers over the age of 60) are often overlooked by merchants who continue to focus on attracting millennials. Armed with signiﬁcant spending power and better health than previous generations, silver surfers are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about shopping online and are on track to become a far more lucrative customer base in the near future. By some estimates, global household spending by people over the age of 60 will reach $15 trillion by 2020, twice as much as it did in 2010. As lifespans extend and seniors start to make up an increasing percentage of the global population, eCommerce merchants will need to focus on this booming business opportunity. This will involve adapting their user experience, providing intuitive and straightforward product information, a quick and eﬃcient payment process, and customer service which demonstrates their brand values for all generations.
In both developed and emerging economies around the world, an ageing population is changing the demographic shape of eCommerce markets. In Hong Kong, for instance, 71% of seniors shopped online in the past 12 months, while this number jumps to 78% in the UK. A survey of retail habits in Switzerland by PwC reveals that 82% of consumers over 65 shop online, speciﬁcally to purchase high value goods such as electronics and furniture.
The high purchasing power of silver surfers comes down to a number of factors. By retirement age, many will have paid oﬀ their household mortgages and children’s education; hence the usual bump in senior consumer spending on travel and leisure. In Europe, people over the age of 50 spend 71% more than young people do on their average purchases. In the U.S., consumers over the age of 50 will soon account for 70% of the country’s disposable income.
This mighty demographic has been overlooked when it comes to eCommerce, largely because merchants assumed they would not, or could not, adapt to new technologies. But, with digital technologies now spanning generations, and as smartphone use continues to rise among seniors, the time has come for a shift in focus. In the UK alone, smartphone use among people over 55 jumped from 18% in 2012 to 45% in 2016, and nearly half of internet users between 65 and 74 now have social media proﬁles.
The rise of on-demand services like Amazon Prime, Netﬂix and Spotify has reshaped entire industries and drove higher adoption of silver surfers to use the latest technology. Amazon alone now has 85 million Prime members, a 35% increase since the end of 2016. Netflix has 117 million members in over 190 countries. Spotify has just announced its IPO at a valuation of $23 billion with 159 million active users and 71 million premium subscribers – it’s worth noting that 70% of silver surfers have active subscriptions.
The internet is breaking down the boundaries between older & younger consumers. Silver surfers can now book travel, arrange home delivery of groceries, order their favourite foods whilst watching their preferred movies and shows online. Check out Grace & Frankie one of the funniest shows poking fun at perceptions of younger generation. There is an incredible opportunity for merchants and payment companies to provide silver surfers the products and services that allow for easy adoption and consumer delight.