Silent Gen Shoppers: How Can Retail Brands Future-Proof Online and Offline Engagement?
It’s not often we see the Silent Generation represented in studies or advice for retailers. Typically, conversation revolves around younger, more digitally-savvy audiences. They dominate the lion’s share of consumer retail spend, after all, and are more open to adopting new digital experiences and ways of shopping.
However, Silent Gen – generally categorised as 71 years and above – still warrant serious attention. There’s no doubting they’re an economically valuable audience, and one of the most financially stable generations: in fact, they spend $162.9 billion annually in the US alone.
It’s vital, therefore, that retailers focus on the basics in order to continue driving bricks and mortar visits, while encouraging those who have adopted digital shopping to stay engaged. They’ll need to focus on the values that this generation values most: community, trust, and safety.
Over-delivery on basic values to keep physical stores thriving
Silent Gen has perhaps been hardest hit by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many fall into the ‘vulnerable’ category, severely limiting their ability to visit physical stores, which is a shopping habit typically favoured by this age group.
In fact, according to recent Adobe research into shifts in consumer purchases in France, Germany and the UK with PK Global, Silent Gen shoppers are two times more likely to shop at a local, physical store versus online. The reasons they give for shopping locally should give retailers some serious food for thought:
- Almost three-quarters (73%) say shopping helps them connect with their local community
- Over two-thirds (67%) say they shop locally because they know and trust the owners/operator/staff
- Nearly two-thirds (62%) see shopping at local retailers and merchants as the best way to support their community
- And 83% factor in visible safe store practices (social distancing measures, hand sanitiser availability) when deciding which physical store to visit
The takeaways are clear. If retailers are serious about engaging Silent Gen shoppers, they must over-deliver on the above values, investing heavily in fundamental areas around health and safety and stocking local products to foster a greater sense of local community support.
Adapt to Silent Gen preferences to keep them engaged online
With much of the world in the throes of a second COVID wave – and with many European countries currently enduring differing levels of the second lockdown of 2020 – it’s vital that retailers continue to adapt and scale in order to meet shifting consumer behaviours and attitudes, even among Silent Gen shoppers.
While it’s true this generation has historically been resistant to online shopping, the restrictions of lockdown saw many of them become digital retail converts, with almost two-thirds (64%) increasing their online spend on essentials since the start of the pandemic.
Moving forwards, as Silent Gen shoppers reveal their most important considerations when choosing where to shop online (see below), there are several key areas of focus for retailers:
- Keep personal information safe (90%)
- Provide a website that’s easy to use and navigate (88%)
- Show detailed product information (82%).
One brand that excelled during the first lockdown was Oakhouse Foods. The UK-based meal delivery service adapted to the challenges of a lockdown, scaling its existing commerce platform to meet increased order demand. To cater to an older age group, it also completely redesigned its mobile and tablet experience for people with poor eyesight or mobility.
People have long memories and won’t forget the brands who offered specific support and assistance quickly. Stories abound of retailers who offered doorstep delivery to the vulnerable and brands that didn’t force new technologies on Silent Gen shoppers, but rather let them dictate their method of payment. This doesn’t just help keep Silent Gen consumers engaged – the empathy shown by brands and their willingness to serve this age group, will invariably resonate with all people, regardless of age.
Silent Gen deserve investment, as much as any other
It’s critical that retailers keep in mind that just because one age group considers some areas important, it doesn’t mean every generation feels the same. In fact, areas of low concern among Silent Gen are somewhat at odds with the preferences of younger audiences. For example, Silent Gen do not rank same-day or overnight delivery (31%) as particularly important, and do not really care for personalised product recommendations based on past purchase history (27%) – the latter being an area that millennials, especially, value greatly.
Retailers must strike a balance between investing in tailoring their offering to specific audiences, but not focusing too heavily on one generation at the cost of another. True, Silent Gen shoppers do not command the same marketing and online investment as younger audiences. But overlook them at your peril – their needs and preferences are just as viable as any other, and the knock-on effects, such as erosion of trust among other audiences, could be considerable.
To learn more about how Adobe accelerates business growth for retailers, please visit Commerce Cloud.