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Marketers spending too much time chasing the youth market - report

2nd Aug 2015
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Government statistics state there are currently four people of working age supporting each pensioner in Britain, and that by 2035 this number is expected to fall to 2.5, and by 2050 to just two.

While the UK’s aging population is well-documented, when it comes to marketing online, the general consensus is that millennials offer more opportunity to brands than any other demographic.

However, new research from Greenlight disputes the unanimity, and claims businesses may be missing out on a huge marketing opportunity by failing to acknowledge the ‘grey pound’ properly.

In a study of 1,000 consumers aged 55 or over, Greenlight found that nine out of ten people in the ‘grey pound’ demographic use the internet to research products and also to buy products, marking out a high degree of ecommerce engagement with the older population.

51% of this demographic are spending between £20 and £80 per month, which is set to equate to around £14.45 billion spent on the web in 2015 by over-55s.

Given that total online retail sales are predicted to reach £52.25bn in the UK this year, this forecast represents a large proportion of overall sales for the year.

“With over 55s set to spend £14.45 billion on the web in 2015, online retailers should spend less time chasing the youth market and concentrate on winning the “grey pound”,” says Andreas Pouros, COO and co-founder of Greenlight.

“Here lies an audience with more disposable cash, which is totally suited to ecommerce; eager to compare products and prices, shop flexibly and have products delivered to their door.

“While tweens and young adults flock to social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see what their friends are buying or browsing, over 55s are more likely to be found reading blogs, shopper feedback, news articles or even Google reviews.

“Online recommendations greatly influence older online shoppers, this is just one element that brands should be building into their digital campaigns to make sure the “grey pound” is spent with them.”

Greenlight’s research states the top three reasons given by over 55s for shopping online are:

1.    Flexibility: being able to shop at any time of day

2.    Ease of product delivery: being able to receive products at any time

3.    Price comparison: being able to review and compare costs in a simple way

However, the research warns that a discrepancy still exists between over-55s and over-65s. As consumers move closer to retirement age (65+), online spend is seen to drop by £5.57, suggesting the oldest shoppers are still yet to  fully embrace online shopping.


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