Are older shoppers wiser amid the pandemic?
Many older consumers — albeit for safety reasons — are at last discovering and helping drive the shift to online spending, digital engagement and omnichannel adventures. They’re also believed to have entered the pandemic in better shape financially and are adapting better mentally than their younger counterparts, despite facing higher risks to contract the virus.
An extensive study from Edward Jones and Age Wave revealed that, in the U.S., 37 percent of Gen Z and 27 percent of Millennials have suffered mental health declines since the pandemic began, while only 15 percent of Baby Boomers and eight percent of Silent Generation respondents (75 and older) said the same.
“COVID-19’s impact forever changed the reality of many Americans, yet we’ve observed a resilience among U.S. retirees in contrast to younger generations,” said Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., psychologist/gerontologist and founder and CEO of Age Wave, a consultancy studying the cultural and economic impacts of aging, in a statement. “Older Americans tend to recognize the value of a long-term view, and so as they think about their lives, longevity and legacy, they’re able to pull from an array of experiences that help them weather current storms, feel gratitude about many aspects of their lives and still plan for the future.”
Similarly, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found only 9.2 percent of those over 65 experiencing pandemic-related “anxiety and stress disorder” versus 17.2 for 45-to-64 year-olds, 36 percent for 25-to-44-year-olds and 46 percent for 18-to-24-year-olds.
A recent Washington Post article concluded that older generations placed a higher value on connecting with friends (via Zoom) and spending time outdoors or exercising to help recharge. Working from home and taking care of kids during a pandemic were found to be major stressors for younger individuals.
“Anxiety often finds its fuel in uncertainty and this is very true during these uncertain times,” Erin Berman, a clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health, told the Post. “It may be possible that older adults are more accustomed to dealing with uncertainty, and getting used to uncertainty does help people learn how to cope.”
- In COVID-19 Crisis, Older Americans Are More Resilient Than Younger Generations, Edward Jones and Age Wave Research Finds – Edward Jones
- Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Amazon is making gains with older consumers as more people turn to e-commerce during COVID-19 – MarketWatch
- How COVID-19 is impacting boomers’ shopping behavior – National Retail Federation
- COVID-19 causes digital shift for boomers – National Retail Federation
- Better Be Nice to the Boomers – eMarketer
- Respondents aged 16-24 are the most comfortable returning to physical stores for non-essential shopping, while respondents aged 55 and older are the least comfortable. – Digital Media Solutions
- New Global Mood Media Study Reveals Two-Thirds (67%) of Consumers Have Returned to Non-Essential Shopping In-Store – Mood Media/Business Wire
- For Seniors, COVID-19 Has Generated a Wave of Loneliness and Worry – Value Penguin
- Who is handling the pandemic best emotionally? Boomers or other retirees? – The Washington Post
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do the findings cited in the article match your experience of how various generations are coping with COVID-19? Should retailers and brands selling to a wide range of consumers consider separate generational messaging campaigns amid the pandemic?