In late 2019, the Retail Trade Research Foundation conducted a consumer survey on the values, attitudes and behaviour of consumers over the age of 55. The survey will be provided to interested institutions of higher learning for the purposes of teaching, research and use in thesis. The survey, which was conducted now for the second time, focused on ageing consumers because the topic is of great importance as Finland ages.
“Ageing customers are an increasingly important consumer segment for future commerce. Traditionally, the ageing population has been researched as recipients of care or income transfers, but not as consumers and customers with purchasing power. Knowing and appreciating ageing customers can be a competitive edge for commerce – even internationally,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist of the Finnish Commerce Federation.
Security, good human relationships and maintenance of self-respect are valued
Security, good human relationships and self-respect are important values regardless of age, but recent research results show they are further emphasised with the over-55s.
“It is important for commerce to consider whether services are planned in a way that enables the customer to maintain a feeling of self-respect and not cause insecurity,” says professor Heikki Karjaluoto from the University of Jyväskylä. Karjaluoto will present the first results of the survey conducted by the foundation in the Commerce Research Day on 30 January.
Many over 55-year-olds are used to digital purchasing, but difficulties in the online space are still common. Nearly one in five people aged between 55–64 find digital purchasing difficult and in the age group 65–80 difficulties are encountered by over one in four. Online purchasing does still sometimes pose problems also for younger people, but of people under 55 only about one in ten found it difficult.
One in three people aged under 55 prefer brick-and-mortar stores and 65 per cent find online stores equally or more attractive. Out of people over the age of 65, over 70 per cent prefer brick-and-mortar stores and a quarter finds physical and online stores as preferable or even prefer buying online.
“When drafting future strategy, commerce should take into account that over 50 per cent of people currently aged 55–64, i.e. future pensioners, find online stores as places of purchase as preferable as brick-and-mortar stores – or even more so. So, digital channels should not be designed with regards only to young people,” says Karjaluoto.
A physical store is an important purchasing channel for people of all ages, including the young. That should also be kept in mind when designing different channels.
Consumers over 55 use mobile platforms, but not for purchases
About a quarter of over 55-year-olds prefer making digital purchases with their smartphones, whereas with ages 55–64 only 9 per cent and of over 65 year-olds only four per cent do so. People over 55 prefer tablets over other mobile devices more often than younger people. This means that for ageing customers, the smartphone is not a similar tool for purchasing as it is for younger people.
In addition, ageing customers do not want to receive mobile advertisements on their phone when shopping. Nearly one in four of under 55 is ready to receive special offers to their phone when visiting physical stores, but with people over 55 only one in ten do. This should also be taken into account if you wish to attract ageing customers with purchasing power.
Most people over 55 use social media very little when searching for product information. Instead, traditional advertising and magazines reach ageing consumers better than younger ones.
“Even if a brand executes an excellent social media campaign, it may not translate to added purchases if the right target audience is customers in their 50s and 60s,” says Karjaluoto.
Heikki Karjaluoto, professor, University of Jyväskylä, tel. +358 (0)40 576 7814, heikki.karjaluoto(at)jyu.fi
Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist of the Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)40 820 5378, jaana.kurjenoja(at)kauppa.fi
The Retail Trade Research Foundation strives to support the commercial research conducted in Finland and also to promote cooperation between researchers and commerce sector companies. The Finnish Commerce Federation is the founding member of the Retail Trade Research Foundation (Vähittäiskaupan Tutkimussäätiö).
The Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce – the largest sector of economic life. Commerce employs around 300,000 people in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry policy and labour market lobbying. kauppa.fi