Consumers Age 65 And Older Are Attracted To Non-Brand Terms

Microsoft's research analyzing the online behavior of consumers 65 years and older in Australia should serve as a road map for marketers trying to reach the same demographic in the United States.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred change and many consumers in that age group have embraced the internet, from connecting with friends on Zoom and Google Meets to shopping online at their favorite stores. Buying online groceries also fits into this shift.

Across the board, seniors have become more active online. On the Microsoft Search Network searches among those ages 65 and older rose 28% year-over year (YoY) from January to June 2020 -- versus 9% for those ages 50 to 64 years old, 26% for those between the ages of 35 and 49, and 20% for those between the ages of 25 and 34.

In 2019, 74% of people age 65 and older had used the internet, compared with only 6% in 2011.

Analysts may attribute the change to the COVID-19 lockdown, but the 650year-old crowd has been drawn to a variety of sites ranging from gambling and health, to food and grocery, finance, and automotive.



This age group saw a 36% increase for Home & Garden searches between March 27 and June 26. Microsoft also saw a 32% increase for gambling in this age group, 31% on beauty and personal care, 30% on food and groceries, and 28% for health

The growth rate of generic searches among those age 65 and older surpasses other age groups. It’s interesting to note the differences between non-brand and brand searches for this age group. This slide shows search YoY growth of those ages 65 and older, compared with the Australian population average at the given period.

Taking gambling as an example. Assuming search YoY growth on Microsoft's platform for gambling is 10% across all search types and age groups. The age group for generic search YoY is 30%, some 20% more than average. The age group for brand search YoY is 6%, some 4% less than population average.

                                Non Branded             Brand

  • Gambling           20%                    -4%      
  • Beauty               19%                     2%
  • Travel                15%                    -23%
  • Automotive        11%                     2%
  • Health               11%                     1%

Those in the age group of 65 and up care less about customer reviews and more about pre- and post-sale support. It’s important to provide in-depth product detail and highlight customer service. Older consumers are more than 10% less likely to care about customer reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations than younger consumers. Older consumers also are more than 10% likely to abandon a shopping cart based on poor pre- and post-sales support.

Microsoft notes that search is key for this customer segments, but its research found that on average around 30% digital touchpoints are on the search engine.

Almost 70% of engagements are from other channels including native content, social and video. This is increasingly true for people in the market for financial products.

Those age 65 and older tend to search for internet and online banking, login and stock investment terms. The following numbers are for query volume distribution by the age group.

  • [bank brand] + internet/online banking     35%
  • [bank brand]                                           18%
  • ASX/ASX 200/ Dow Jones                         42%
  • [bank brand] + login                                34%
  • Paypal/ Afterpay                                      10%
  • insurance related                                       8%

Despite worries about the pandemic, those age 65 and older in Australia continue to search for cruises and caravans, but less than those age 18 through 64. For example, searches in the category of cruise brand rose 45% in the first six months of 2020 for those age 65 and older, whereas the term rose 55% for those age 18 to 64.

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