Retail in Asia

In Markets

Older consumers do their shopping online


Consumers in their 50s and 60s are an emerging force in e-commerce as older customers with plenty of money to spend. Data confirm they are increasingly shopping online and via mobile apps.

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Data from e-commerce website Auction released showed that online purchases by consumers in their 50s and 60s have more than doubled compared to five years ago.

Comparing the sales record from the year’s first half, consumers in their 50s spent 130 percent more than they did in 2014. Shoppers in their 60s increased their online spending by 171 percent.

Combined, shoppers in their 50s and 60s accounted for 27 percent of all Auction customers in the first half of this year. In 2014 their share was just 17 percent.

“We see more proactive PC and smartphone users among people in their 50s and 60s and their increase is wielding influence over the e-commerce market, which in the past was mainly about consumers in the 20s and 30s,” said Seo Eun-hee, who is in charge of Auction’s marketing team.

Seo added that the growing purchasing power of older customers is a sign that e-commerce is no longer a channel confined to specific generations.

Auction’s report also analyzed which products were popular with older consumers.

Although it is generally thought that younger shoppers are more willing to spend money on themselves – the “you-only-live-once (YOLO)” lifestyle – Auction’s data suggested that is no longer the case.

Belying the traditional Korean image of the prudent, family-centered older generation, shoppers in their 50s and 60s are apparently splashing out on clothes, luxury goods and travel. Sales of tickets for flights, cruises, golf vacations and tour packages rose more than 114 times. Fashion items sold almost eight times more this year compared to 2014 while sales for luxury-branded goods nearly tripled.

More seniors were also looking for simpler alternatives to home-cooked meals as purchases of instant food and home-meal replacements also tripled during the same period.

Smartphones are one factor that has boosted the number of older consumers shopping online. Mobile versions of e-commerce sites are generally simpler and intuitively easier to understand than those of PCs.

In late June, e-commerce website WeMakePrice announced that “senior” is one of the four keywords that define the e-commerce trend in this year’s first half.

Purchases by consumers above 50 rose 36 percent year-on-year during this period. The number of members of the website in this age group also increased 2.6 percent year-on-year.

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Like Auction, the list of products most purchased by senior consumers had high price tags: bars of gold, laundry machines and refrigerators. In fact, seven among last year’s 10 bestselling products of consumers aged above 50 were home electronics, whereas in 2016 there were two and in 2015, zero.

This increase is notable in that it signals senior consumers now have more trust in the products they buy online.