IAB: Brands must work quickly to keep older shoppers driven to ecommerce by lockdown

Ecommerce is set to see a surge in new long-term customers, after nearly 60% of those aged 55 and over who adopted or increased their online shopping in 2020 revealed they would continue to do so after the pandemic according to a new report by IAB UK.

The study shows that older age groups are fuelling the growth of ecommerce and that 58% of 55 and overs said they do not plan to reduce the frequency of their online shopping once lockdown measures ease, compared to 53% of 35-54s and 61% of 16-34s.

The findings, from IAB UK’s 2021 Real Living study and released as part of its Ecommerce Week, point to a permanent shift in shopping habits that present a major new opportunity for brands to tailor their messaging to an older demographic in a bid to cement these habits for the long-term.

Results show that those aged 55+ have driven the growth across the four highest-growing ecommerce categories – with an overall increase in spend for food and drink; clothing and fashion; home and garden; personal care and beauty – proving how crucial this audience will be to retailers who are preparing to adjust their marketing plans to this new retail environment.

The research also sheds light on the different sources of inspiration for each demographic, with social media and word-of-mouth being the key drivers for 16-34s, while older age groups are more likely to turn to retailers and online stores – 45% of 35-54s and 55% of 55+.

However, further findings show all is not lost for traditional brick-and-mortar stores, as one in three respondents said they expected to increase both ecommerce and physical shopping – a group who over-index on young families in London – offering retailers twice the available moments to engage with these customers.

Retail has changed forever over the last year and as we begin to plan for life after lockdown now is the time for marketers to be establishing what their customer base looks like now, what their priorities are and mindset is, and how best they can be reached. We know the older cohort look to retailers and online stores for inspiration, suggesting it is the first-party data gathered during the year that will come to the fore as brands look to cement this new relationship.

Elizabeth Lane, Head of Research & Measurement, IAB UK