For ecommerce brands, the pandemic-induced shift to online shopping represents an opportunity within a largely untapped market of online shoppers over 55.

Heather Bien

Heather Bien, senior content marketing manager at Resonate

Throughout 2020 and now into 2021, retailers have watched as Americans moved their purchases online. And, while nearly 70% of American consumers say they’d prefer to return to in-store grocery shopping once it’s safe, that’s not the case for everyone—particularly baby boomers.

According to a recent analysis via Resonate’s Ignite consumer intelligence platform, boomers are almost 14% less likely than the average American to say they’ll return to grocery shopping in-store post-pandemic. Given their spending power, baby boomers are an important demographic for retailers.

For ecommerce brands, the pandemic-induced shift to online shopping represents an opportunity within an untapped market. Our data shows that in the next 90 days, baby boomers are:

  • 190% more likely than the average American consumer to start a food delivery service subscription.
  • 9% more likely to increase online grocery orders.
  • 73% more likely to start a new virtual gym subscription (such as Peloton or Mirror).
  • 14% more likely to increase their likelihood to purchase products online.
  • 40% more likely to decrease how apt they are to visit a grocery store or pharmacy in-person.
  • They’re jumping into the deep end of ecommerce, and there’s no looking back now.

The untapped opportunity 

So, who are these baby boomer online shoppers? Here’s a quick peek: They skew female, with 57% falling into the younger (55-64) end of the age group and 43% celebrating a birthday over 65. They’re 190% more likely than the average American adult to be retired, and 86% do not have children under 18 at home.

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Likewise, 28% have an annual household income over $100,000, and 80% have some college or more education. In their free time, this group enjoys healthy eating, leading a life grounded in religion, and gardening. Of those who are not retired, they’re 621% more likely than the average American to be working remotely.

From a values standpoint, baby boomers value duty, which encompasses a desire to obey laws and fulfill obligations—a value that’s likely at play in their decisions to #stayhome and shop online. Additionally, they value safety in community and nation, as well as being reliable and trustworthy.

These baby boomers are in a slightly more financially comfortable position than many other Americans. They’re 7% more likely to say they are currently living comfortably, defined as more than able to pay for necessities, with a cushion of money in reserve. Additionally, they’re 5% more likely to say they are not worried about their current personal financial situation. However, they’re also 17% more likely to be concerned about the pandemic’s financial consequences.

The where and what of baby boomer ecommerce

Today’s baby boomers are 19% more likely than the average consumer to say they are the primary grocery shopper in their household. They’re also 110% more likely to have a retail or grocery rewards card and use it as their primary credit card.

So, where are they grocery shopping? And what are they buying online? Compared to the average consumer, they are:

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  • 41% more likely to have placed a Wegman’s online order in the last three months.
  • 32% more likely to have placed a Harris Teeter online order in the previous three months.
  • 5% more likely to have placed a Whole Foods online order over the last six months.
  • 9% more likely to order from Amazon Fresh.
  • 8% more likely to buy household goods online.
  • 6% more likely to purchase pet supplies online.
  • 34% more likely to buy coffee online.
  • 122% more likely to buy wine, beer and other alcohol online.

When it comes to other retail, they’re 57% more likely to shop at True Value Hardware and 28% more likely to shop at CVS. Additionally, when it comes to retail clothing, they’re 200% more likely to shop at Talbots, 146% more likely to shop at Lands’ End, and 102% more likely to shop at J.Crew.

Likewise, baby boomer online shoppers are more likely to shop, both for groceries and other goods, with mass merchants and warehouse clubs, as well as to make impulse purchases. That means retailers should be putting thought into how they can recreate those in-store experiences online. Boomer shoppers are also approximately 20% more likely to use coupons and pre-written lists, both actions typically associated with in-person shopping. As such, ecommerce retailers can win with this audience by creating functionality within their websites and apps that allows these shoppers to store shopping lists and apply virtual coupons.

This group is also 20% more likely to buy online and pick-up in-store, so retailers shouldn’t neglect to make their curbside pick-up experiences seamless and easy, particularly for those who aren’t as familiar compared with others with online shopping processes.

For retailers, the baby boomer generation’s power is evident—yet often not reflected within current marketing strategies and messaging. For retailers that already have an ecommerce presence they should consider how baby boomers can find representation within their email marketing and on their websites, not to mention within their overall customer experience.

When it comes to generational opportunities, the ecommerce game has changed dramatically over the past year. It’s time for retailers to change with it.

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Resonate provides customer data and intelligence services. 

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