Seniors and distribution channels

The over-50s have seen a lot of changes in retailing since they were children and continue to prefer to shop in physical stores rather than online. But which distribution channels do they use? What do they think of physical stores since the health crisis?

According to the September 2022 OpinionWay study, “The French and physical commerce”, whatever the age group, the most frequented channels are supermarkets and hypermarkets. However, it is the over-50s who use them most (94%), while the 18-34s are slightly behind with 88%.

For the over-35s, small food shops are the second most frequented channel. The rate of frequentation is rising according to age: 72% for the 35-49s, 76% for the 50-64s and 78% for the 65s. Markets and food shops also attract three quarters of the over-50s, but less so the 35-49s, only two thirds of whom buy from these channels.

For the older people, shopping plays an important role in maintaining social relations. This is why they prefer physical shops because they can talk to the cashier and shopkeepers and also receive advice.

The under-35s are the ones who visit shopping centres the most (73%) and the 18-24s the most in out-of-town shops (70%).

Senior citizens, both the 50-64 and the over-65s, do not frequent outlets, brand villages and factory outlets very much (17% and 9% respectively).

Generational behaviour: physical shops vs. online

In contrast to younger people, more than three quarters of the over 50s say that “physical shops give them more pleasure than when they buy on the internet”. On the other hand, for younger people only two thirds of the under 50s agree with this statement. It is therefore not surprising that the majority of older people agree on the need to support physical shops (93%).

Among the over-50s, we can distinguish between people from the Silent Generation (1925-1945) who prefer human contact because they experienced the appearance of adult retailing in the 1960s and did not grow up with technology. Because of their fragility, they generally prefer local shops in order to limit travel.

The Baby Boomers (1943-1959) have a mixed traditional and digital consumption pattern. They will take more time to find out more on the internet before going into a shop, but 89% of them also say that “physical stores allow them to benefit from better advice from salespeople than on the internet”. Experienced and demanding, they will have high expectations of the advisor and the service provided.

Generation X (1965-1976), unlike the Baby Boomers, has experienced the oil crisis and many economic and social changes (unemployment, increased job insecurity, etc.). They will be more motivated by promotional offers than Baby Boomers who are less careful about their spending if it gives them pleasure.

From the point of view of security, even the youngest respondents (85%) think that physical shops make it possible to buy products more securely than on the Internet (payments, deliveries).

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