The ongoing pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives but perhaps the most impacted has been how we as a nation shop. From our weekly groceries to smart home tech and even furniture, the changes in rules due to lockdowns has led to us having to rely more on online shopping as physical stores were forced to close.
And for some the changes will now be permanent, with some well-known high street brands collapsing and being brought back as online only.
But while more and more older people have embraced the internet and online shopping due to necessity, many brands and e-commerce sites are yet to consider older shoppers as a viable demographic.
But can brands really afford to ignore any potential shoppers right now? Especially a demographic that, pre-pandemic, was reported to account for £320bn of annual household spending and the over-50s hold over three-quarters of the nation’s financial wealth’.
So what can brands do to successfully chase this ‘grey pound’?
Well, after 40 successful years in the industry, Chums, an online clothing brand specifically designed for older shoppers is sharing their tips on how to appeal to the 65+ shopper.
Readability: An obvious one, but one that many websites are still getting wrong. Font size smaller than 12 point is often hard for users with impaired vision to read, meaning that 12 point should be the minimum default however consider having the option to increase the text size as desired to really ensure your website can appeal to all users regardless of age.
And it’s not just the size that matters, your choice of font style is important too. That’s because the small strokes added to the end of a serif letter or symbol can blur in people with deteriorating eyesight, making the text harder to read. So, ditch the Times New Roman in favour of a sans serif type for clarity and impact.
Similarly, you will want to ensure that there is plenty of white space between lines and words to ensure sentences don’t blur into one another.
Navigation: Ditch the hidden menus and drop-down options in favour of a clear, straightforward process. Many older shoppers don’t want to have to navigate a maze of buttons and links just to see another page. Also consider having “previous” and “next” buttons to easily navigate to similar content where possible such as on your blog page.
Another easy win for making your site navigation more friendly for older shoppers is to have your search box easily accessible, as many older internet users prefer searching directly for what they want. Also, ensure that your site’s design and navigation remain consistent from page to page. In particular, make sure that your search box, print button, and page title are always in the same place.
Consider the end-to-end experience: Today’s senior shoppers grew up in an offline world where customer service meant ‘face-to-face’. You should keep this in mind when considering potential friction points in a 65+ shopper’s end to end experience.
What may only be a ‘value add’ for younger shoppers may actually be essential for an older demographic. For example, webchats for customers who are hard of hearing or advanced delivery notifications specifying who will be delivering an order and when, to prevent unannounced callers.
Design: Simple designs are often the most appealing to older shoppers, ones that are linear, clearly signposted almost like a newspaper because it feels familiar to them. As are sites where users can reach the bottom with only a few scrolls. Websites with infinite scrolling, in which you never reach the “end” of a site’s content can feel overwhelming to older users and turn them away.
Avoid colours that are exceptionally bright, as well as combinations that make content difficult to see such blue and yellow or red and green. And try to increase the contrast of your content i.e., dark text on light background – but avoid light colours on dark background.
Lastly consider how an older shopper may connect to your site, not physically but rather emotionally. People respond best to marketing materials that reflect their own gender, age, and other demographics and older shoppers are no exception. So consider incorporating images that reflect the user you want to target but they must still be realistic, yet aspirational.
One Final Tip
Let your customer tell you what is true for them: The market for 65+ is constantly changing, not only as consumers adopt technology more readily into their everyday lives, but also as the life experiences of those consumers feed into the market and translate into their taste of fashion, footwear and how they style their home.
For example, a customer who grew up with the swinging 1960’s as their formative years will have a very different outlook to those that grew up in the 1940/50’s where rationing and being frugal was ingrained into the psyche.
Yet both of these customers fall comfortably within the older shopper demographic
A lot of research is done every year on the latest fashion trends for younger consumers, or the different styles and tech goods they need but very few brands are interested in what older consumers are looking for.
Which is why it’s so important for any brand that is chasing this demographic to make sure they actually listen to and understand their customer.
As Paul Gray from Chums explains: “Chums was founded on the belief that the traditional high street fashion stores are predominantly set up to service the 18-44yrs market and very few design their clothing around the needs of the mature customer. Offering product design that actually addresses these needs, such as touch fastening shoes for shoppers with reduced dexterity, or for trouser with discreet comfort bands that are more suitable for longer periods sitting down in a range of different styles allows us to not only fulfil the practical needs of a customer but also appeal to their fashion wants.
“It’s this attention to detail combined with a strong customer service ethos which has allowed us to withstand the test of time over the past four decades and will carry us through to future success.”