Over 65s feel excluded by online brands

New research from customer engagement platform Twilio shows older consumers are being left behind when businesses digitize their customer facing operations.

Although consumers over 65 hold significant digital shopping power, with 76 percent relying on online shopping in the UK, only 12 percent say they feel understood by brands they interact with digitally.

There's a preference for older means of communication, with 85 percent of consumers over 65 saying they would rather speak to someone over the phone compared to other methods. That said, 16 percent from this demographic are happy to use technology channels such as chatbots and apps to interact with brands.

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"Trust between business and customer is crucial, particularly in challenging economic times, and building that trust with tailored, personalized communication is key," says Sam Richardson, principal visioneering consultant at Twilio. "Customer engagement needs to be inclusive in order to be effective, and good old fashioned phone calls don't need to fall by the wayside in an effort to modernize -- in fact, all age groups find them useful for chatting through more complex problems. While in-app chat and SMS are useful for delivery updates and might perfectly suit more digital-native audiences, businesses should also think about what people with accessibility needs require from them."

Businesses could be missing opportunities too as only six percent of consumers over 65 say that they never do their shopping online, compared to 30 percent of 18-24 year-olds. Similarly, over half (51 percent) of over 65s read or keep hold of digital marketing communications.

There are trust issues though with 50 percent of shoppers over 65 saying they didn't know where brands got their contact details from. Only a third (32 percent) of respondents over 65 say they feel like valued customers, 15 percent feel that brands care about them, and just 10 percent feel that they represent the main target audience when it comes to marketing communications.

"Older demographics are clearly more interested in regular brand engagement online compared to younger consumers," adds Richardson. "As this older age bracket continues to grow in an aging population, brands need to be better prepared to cater to older consumers digitally. This means reflecting customer preferences in available communication methods, as well as using first-party data -- data collected consensually from customers -- to deliver accurate, personalized experiences that make customers feel heard and understood. Technologies like customer data platforms can translate this data into insights, and this provides businesses valuable direction as to what customers actually want."

You can find out more on the Twilio blog.

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