If you thought a Silver Surfer was just a Marvel comic book character, think again! It’s also a new American moniker for those senior citizens who regularly surf the web. The term silver, of course, refers to the colour of their hair.
This isn’t a particularly recent phenomenon; in fact, in the U.S., one in two seniors regularly goes online (Mashable ,2012). What’s new is that these silver surfers are increasingly likely to spend money on the Internet. This is the case in France, where in 2011, 57% of the silver surfers were “cyber buyers”! (see French site gestionpub.com)
In this article we’ll look a bit more closely at the profile of a silver surfer, and give you some helpful advice on adapting your e-store to include this new target market.
The silver surfers: those senior citizens who regularly surf the net
I- Who are the silver surfers?
Silver surfers are people over 50 who regularly use the Internet. They generally have quite a lot of discretionary income as well as a healthy chunk of free time. They are increasingly comfortable using the Internet to shop for travel-related items and cultural product like books and CDs, for example. The profile of a senior cyber buyer differs substantially from that of your basic customer. Here are the silver surfer’s main characteristics:
- Seniors are fairly fixed in their habits and avoid change. This is doubly true on the Internet. Once they find a brand, they stick with it, and the same goes for their e-stores.
- Senior citizens really need reassurance, so they really look to professionals for advice.
- It’s an unavoidable truth that no one likes to wait, and seniors even less. They appreciate being able to quickly find and use what they’re looking for.
- As for the frequency of their purchases, according to the survey company LH2’s 2011 study , seniors buy on the Internet at least once a month and their average basket has a value of over 50€. According to a 2012 article published by French Web, seniors spend on average 1,650€ per year. Figures like that are hard to ignore! Clearly, senior citizens are potential gold mines for you e-tailers.
II- How can you adapt your website to this target market?
In order to encourage the silver surfers to spend their money on your site, you’ll have to think about how to meet their needs:
a. Simplify the ergonomic design
The fewer steps there are between the product choice and the final purchase step, the more comfortable the senior will feel in your e-store. So it’s crucial to simplify the purchase process as much as possible. Avoid complicated procedures – you’ll scare them off!
Second tip: use a bigger font size so that the text is easily read by all, particularly senior citizens. They’ll appreciate the fact that you’ve thought of them, and this appreciation will translate into sales for you.
b. Ensure they can speak to advisors quickly
According to a 2011 Wisaforce study en 2011, , “70% of the over 50s react positively when they are aided by an advisor on a website,”. As we’ve already seen, seniors require twice as much reassurance as your basic online customer. So you’ll need to make sure that it’s easy for them to speak to someone! Here are two potential ways to help you do this:
- The « callback » function, which enables you to call your customer back right away.
- The « live to chat » function, which means you can answer customer questions directly via chat. (for more information, read our article on chats)
Seniors are cyber buying today, and they’ll be cyber buying tomorrow even more. With a purchasing power that keeps increasing and lots of free time, they’ve got all the qualities necessary to be the perfect Internet consumers! And now, with tablet technology, they’re fully equipped to surf the web, hopefully washing up in your e-store. So don’t delay, now’s the time to think about how to get those silver surfers on your side!
Icing on the cake: PrestaShop has a great infographic all about this new target market!