AUK | Respect your elders: It might just be your best online strategy
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Respect your elders: It might just be your best online strategy

Quick! Grab your doomsday supplies and get to the bunker – the pensioners are coming! New research from the ONS shows the proportion of 65+ year olds who shop online tripled over the last decade. TRIPLED. From 16% to nearly half of that age group now buy things like the rest of us.

It’s incredibly exciting when you think about it. Not wet-your-pants-getting-to-meet-Justin-Bieber exciting but still. An age group with major spending power has shifted their behaviour in a way that many people never thought would happen. What an opportunity.

Except, let’s face it, not many online stores have been set up with people aged 65+ in mind. And worse, existing advice for designing online spaces for older people starts and stops with “make the text bigger”. Oh great.

Looks like we’ve got a lot to dig into. Here are the top three things to consider…

What should digital design look like for those who don’t know digital design?

People aged 65+ didn’t grow up with computers, let alone the internet, smartphones and tablets. How quickly has their online behaviour evolved when compared to younger generations? Do they share younger people’s almost inherent understanding of common UI elements such as the hamburger icon? Have they already, or are they willing to learn the new language of design? If not, how will we adapt UI and UX to better engage them, and should accessibility principles be better defined in their scope when accommodating the 65+?

If you’re not already looking for the answers to these questions then now is the time to start. Because other people aren’t. Everyone is still fighting over their tiny piece of the 95%+ of 16-34 year olds who shop online. So you’ve kind of got a free go at making your brands online presence genuinely mean more to a sizeable older audience.

Should we build future experiences based on the past?

People aged 65+ have had a different relationship with businesses and brands. They’re used to a more personal world, regularly putting a face to a name. They knew Percy at the bank. And ol’ Jack down at the Post Office who’s always blathering on about his garden.

There’s a wealth of insights to be had here. Are older people less engaged by automation and self-service? Should we lengthen the conversation? Or build online experiences around real human connections? E.g. Thread’s innovative digital sales strategy of assigning you your own personal stylist to give you recommendations.

Does retirement affect online behaviour?

With more time on their hands, will retirees spend it browsing? If so, how? By looking at more alternatives (suggesting we should place more emphasis on retargeting campaigns, brand loyalty, recommendations, etc) or finding out more about a chosen product (we’ll need to focus on product descriptions, additional product content, content outreach strategies, etc)?

This could get interesting…

Of course it’s more important to understand audiences as individuals rather than as age groups. But if we want to tap into this incredible opportunity, we’re going to have to rethink a few things.

Are you preparing for the pensioners?