More over 65s are buying on the internet than you might think

Over 65s are increasingly comfortable with shopping online

The Office of National Statistics in the UK has recently taken a look at how the over 65s and others use the internet and their interests in online shopping.

Now “over 65s” is a huge category, ranging over two generations in some families. So the differences between those in their 60s and those in their 80s is likely to be marked – not just in internet usage but in needs and desires too.

All that said, there are several factors that could entice marketers to take more account of this sector when planning their campaigns.

  1. The over 65s may use the internet for various social, research and shopping purposes less than younger age groups, but they are still significant. And numbers are growing.
  • 53% of this age group use email
  • 34% read news online
  • 31% use services related to travel
  • 23% use social networks, up by 8% from 2015
  • 45% have shopped online in the past 12 months, up by 29% since 2008
  • 24% have bought clothes or sports goods online this year
  • Around a quarter of this age group say they have bought household goods, travel arrangements, and books/magazines/papers and papers
  • Around 10% have bought food or groceries, tickets for events and electronic equipment.
  • Fewer again have bought films and music (including downloads), video games/software/upgrades and hardware.
  1. The next age group, the 55-64s, use the internet significantly more. Of working age, they are likely to have had long-term experience and be comfortable with the ways of the web. And as every year passes more people will enter the 65+ category, possibly with changing tastes and needs, but still with their online experience. So this “grey” opportunity can only grow.

Image: GraphicStock

No disrespect. Writing about older people

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Four years ago I started editing a website offering advice and shared experience for the family and friends of older people.

The content was a mile away from my usual diet of B2B and B2C marketing communications. And here was the problem. It required a completely different approach in the voice that we use.

Most of my “day-job” B2B clients want to appear professional and approachable without being over-friendly. They want to be enthusiastic without being over-zealous. And the B2C clients want a tone that defines their brand and appeals to consumer aspirations.

This project is quite different. There are plenty of topics here that come under the label of “eurgh”. We believe we can’t ignore them, so we approach at least some of them with a  dollop of humour. After all, it’s the grimaced smiles that get us through some of the darker days.

The trouble with the humour is that it has to sit alongside pieces that are just truly heart-rending, and we never want to offend or belittle the traumatic stories that some of our readers have to tell.

So we take it gently. We need to show respect to our readers who have volunteered to tell their stories of life with ageing and frail parents.

We always aim to be useful. We want our content to be  illuminating, enlightening and offer an opportunity to talk. We treat people’s stories and their pain with the honour they deserve. But when we have permission to smile and turn on the humour to get us through, we do.

More older people are renting homes – at least temporarily

Renting property in retirement

The notion that older people are blocking the housing market for younger people by sitting in family homes they no longer need is perplexing. Family homes are not what young people want so where’s the problem? Or is it that if they moved out everyone on the ladder could step up a rung and then there’d be room for those starting out?

Whatever the argument, a new report from Saga suggests that actually older people may be actually competing for smaller homes in an unexpected way.

More older people are renting

The survey finds that a third of over 50s are currently living in rented accommodation. That’s up from 25% in 2011. Saga reports that the biggest increase in renters is in the 50-54 age group, and that 20% of renters over 50 are single. And Saga thinks many of them are waiting to get back onto the bottom rung of the housing market.

Why’s that happening? The rise in “silver splitters” is a likely cause. As people live longer they’re continuing to evaluate their happiness into their retirement years and divorce is a more common option. That involves selling the family home and splitting the assets. One family home doesn’t necessarily equate to two smaller properties in the same area, so people are taking their time to decide where and how they are going to invest again, if they can.

Downsizing on a single income

Moving into specially built retirement apartments or villages may not be an option. While these properties range in price dramatically depending on the provider, facilities and location, they are generally not cheap. One apartment could easily eat up the value of an entire family home.

Moving away to save money

Moving to a different part of the country is also often mooted as the answer to unlocking the value of assets. But anyone hoping for a pretty cottage in the Cotswolds or a charming cathedral town will be disappointed, as these have become destinations of choice for retirees. And even last week there was a surge of searches around moving to Scotland, as shocked pro-EU voters wondered if Scotland might leave the UK and rejoin the EU in the next few years.

Competing in the first-home market

All this suggests then that it’s in the small home market that older people may be competing with first-time buyers. If that’s the case, then calling retirees out for holding up the property market by staying in the large family home is a tad unfair.

 

Older people and the natural world

How people experience the natural world changes as they age. Sensory perceptions, such as sight and smell, can alter over time. So how important is getting outside into nature for older people – including those living with dementia – and how can we deliver better experiences?

According to a review of available research amongst the over 60s, being outdoors and experiencing nature, plants and wildlife offers real physical, social and mental benefits for older people. How much they can benefit, however, depends on how they are limited by their own capabilities. And the research suggests that these limits are hindering people from spending as much time outside as they would like.

Studies suggest that being outdoors, in gardens or landscapes, is of great therapeutic value. The UK government itself has asserted that everyone should have fair access to a good quality natural environment. That access can play a key role in a further government priority of enabling people to live well with dementia.

The research suggests that beautiful views from a window enable many to connect with the natural world regardless of mobility. For those able to travel, access to a car opened up opportunities to get outside in different landscapes. Even in cities, being able to track the changing face of nature through community areas or even watching the detail of trees through the seasons brings pleasure.

In sensory terms, feeling the wind, hearing birdsong and taking in countryside or seaside fresh air and associated scents helped people to connect with nature, enjoy a sense of peace and tranquility, and raise the feeling of well-being.

For those who live in residential settings the ability to get outside in some way is important. As well as contributing to a sense of well-being, it helps people to feel less trapped in their surroundings.

And for older people still living at home, the garden or the allotment can still hold great attraction, although changing needs may mean a re-think of how the space works safely and can be maintained easily.

Those who can access transport or join community groups can benefit from tours across landscapes or visits to gardens and historic homes. Older people are core to memberships of organisations such as the National Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society, and while they continue to work to attract young families, it would be nice to think that they recognise the importance of their offerings to their more mature members.

 

 

How fraudsters sell to older people

mobile-paymentCreating excitement about a proposition, putting a time limit on making a purchase decision, invoking trusted sources.

These are recognisable strategies that are often used to encourage potential customers to buy, and buy fast.

Whether you like them or not, they are often employed by genuine businesses to get people off the “I’m not sure” fence and buying.

Now, though, it seems financial fraudsters are using the same methods to victimise older people.

A new report from Stanford University has found that scammers are using “high-arousal” emotions such as anger or excitement to encourage people to make risky purchases.  And older people seem to be more vulnerable to this approach than younger people.

Even though they may recognise that an appeal may not be credible, older people are still more likely to make that decision to buy if their emotions have been heightened than if they are in a more “low-arousal” state of being bored, depressed or tired..

This puts a new perspective on how we sell to this age group.

You could argue that if the research is valid, it’s a perfectly feasible approach to selling real goods and services to older people. But if fraudsters are busy perfecting the art, should we be taking the moral high ground and refusing to get involved?