Study: Seniors Top Online Shoppers

American seniors 55 and over have embraced the Internet and are shopping and surfing online in ever increasing numbers, according to a study released Tuesday by Internet research firm Greenfield Online.

The Surfing Seniors Digital Consumer survey found that more seniors are shopping online than a year ago. Surprisingly, the survey also revealed the percentage of wired seniors shopping online is higher than the percentage of general Internet users shopping online.

“The majority of the seniors surveyed are not just dabbling on the Internet,” said Greenfield CEO Rudy Nadilo.

Greenfield pointed out that 29 percent of the 3,000 seniors surveyed spent two to three hours a day online, 57 percent owned their computers for four years or longer, 90 percent owned a color printer, and 61 percent owned a scanner.

Shopping Seniors

The survey found that 93 percent of online seniors surveyed have shopped online, compared to 78 percent of the general Internet population. Fully 89 percent of seniors completed their online purchases, compared to only 70 percent for the general Internet population. Last year’s senior survey showed that 92 percent of online seniors had shopped online and 78 percent had completed their online purchases.

Seniors — who were not asked to rank the items and could choose more than one category — are most likely to shop online for computer software, with 56 percent of seniors checking that option. Next was books at 54 percent; and then CDs and audio tapes, 42 percent.

Although seniors are embracing e-commerce, they are not going to shop at online pharmacies, unless those pharmacies begin working with seniors’ insurance companies to make it less complicated to pay using medical insurance.

Greenfield also found that although 33 percent of the seniors that have visited an online drugstore or pharmacy have made a purchase, only 21 percent of the seniors who made purchases said they were likely to be repeat customers because of complications with the online drugstores and pharmacies accepting medical insurance.

Taking a Gamble

The survey also found that a whopping 90 percent of online seniors try their luck in cyber-sweepstakes and contests. Most seniors are looking to win cash, but some are entering to win other prizes, such as cars.

Although seniors are attracted by the possibility of winning cash online, it does not take big bucks to convince them to spin the virtual lottery wheel. The survey found that 30 percent of online senior gamblers enter contests giving away as little as $5 to $10 (US$).

Although seniors like to shop online, they like to send and receive e-mail even more. Ninety-five percent of seniors surveyed use the Internet for e-mail. Seventy percent check online weather reports. Fifty-seven percent use the Internet to find coupons and special offers, and 56 percent use the Net to catch up on the latest news.

About the Survey

The study is part of Greenfield’s ongoing Digital Consumer series that examines attitudes and usage of the online public. The survey is the second Surfing Seniors, and was conducted online between March 28, 2000 and April 3, 2000 with a sample of 2,808 respondents.

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