Baby Boomers Embrace E-Commerce

By Duke Marr, Chief Marketing Officer

By 2022, consumers could be spending $100 billion a year on online grocery. That’s according to the Nielsen Company and FMI’s Digitally Engaged Food Shopper Study.

A key insight from the multi-year study is the fact that age and affluence don’t impact online shopping. The majority of Millennials (61%) and Generation X (55%), as well as 41% of Baby Boomers and 39% of Greatest Generation have recently purchased a CPG product online.

A recent report by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) shows that many Americans aged 50 and older are embracing technology to stay connected with their families, friends and communities. According to the AARP’s findings, 7 in 10 Americans aged 50+ own a smartphone and 9 in 10 own either a Laptop or a Desktop PC.

KPMG’s 2017 Global Online Consumer Report goes further to say, “Don’t underestimate the Baby Boomers.” Baby Boomers (born 1946-1965) on average spent more per transaction than either Millennials (born 1982-2001) or Generation X (born 1966-1981). The average amount spent per transaction was $203 for Baby Boomers, $190 for Generation X and $173 for Millennials. Baby Boomers are more likely to buy healthcare products, wine, household goods and appliances, which tend to have higher price tags.

Specialty food retailers, including many who use Self Point’s e-commerce platform, often tell me that they have loyal customers who have been shopping their stores across multiple generations. These grocers rely heavily on traditional advertising and word of mouth to maintain traffic. These same customers are now shopping both online and in-store, depending on the particular need of each shopping occasion.

Baby Boomers’ online orders are more often for the big weekly shopping list or special occasions, which explains why online carts are typically twice as big as in-store carts. One of our New York area specialty grocers recently told me how much his customers are utilizing the shopping lists features to reorder household staples every week. That in addition to the convenient option of delivery or curbside pickup are what keeps his customers coming back.

Countless research shows older generations are enjoying the convenience of online and mobile shopping. Baby Boomers prefer websites that look classic, neat and clean – without clutter or too many colors and complicated navigation. Being more conservative than younger generations, Baby Boomers desire simplicity and believe less is more. For these reasons we have intentionally designed our apps to be minimalistic and utilitarian. They are about convenience and saving consumers’ precious time.

Chain Store Age provides top Baby Boomer shopping habits that retailers can’t afford to ignore, including:

1.     Baby Boomers are more likely than younger generations to stop shopping a retailer if a sales associate didn’t appreciate their business or if a store is messy.

2.     Baby Boomers want convenience and place a higher value, compared to other age groups, on easy-access locations, easy-to-navigate stores and a clear return policy.

3.     Boomers scored higher than all the younger demographics for knowing how much they pay for food and packaged goods.

4.     Contrary to popular belief, Baby Boomers aren’t stuck in the good old days when it comes to retail. They are the only generation that doesn’t prioritize buying the brands they used while growing up.

5.     When buying something new or which they have little experience, Baby Boomers, are twice as likely as Millennials to be influenced by the popularity of the item.

Bottom line, Baby Boomers want easy checkout and a clearly stated return policy. Wealthy older customers won’t mind paying more if you meet or exceed their high expectations.

That’s the reason investing money in technology in a thoughtful, personalized way is a proven strategy to efficiently deliver the retail experience Baby Boomers are searching for.

For success stories on food retailers transitioning to mobile and online shopping, please contact us at (888) 300-9298 or email

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