The Surge of the Silver Surfer
June 18, 2020
“I’ve a dream, a Sliver Dream Machine” From Silver Dream Racer, by David Essex - 1980
Coronavirus has unleashed and new Covid Klondike and “there’s silver in them thar hills”. The demographic definition of the Silver Economy ranges from over 60 to over 70 depending on who’s doing the stats. We think the sensible definition is anyone with grey hair, who’s retired, no mortgage, no dependants, a well-planned pension and a surfeit of disposable income. Although I’m sure there’s plenty of bankers, brokers and bond traders who would take exception to that epithet.
Gentle teasing to one side, the considered part of this conversation is the effect of the pandemic on those that have been advised to “shield and keep shielding” on the basis of conditions brought on through age or simply on the basis of age itself.
As the national conditions have started to relax this group seem to fall into two clearly defined segments – those who continue to defend their health seeking shelter within the walls of their home and those who clearly think “the devil may care!” but the golf club’s open so I’m breaking out the irons.
The interesting opportunity is that both of those groups have devoted much of their Isolation Vacation – time off from looking after the Grandkids – to educate themselves in many things digital, but especially digital commerce, and the biggest beneficiary? You guessed it - grocery. However, many FMCG brands able to deliver direct to the silver consumer are seeing 200% - 430% growth in this particular demographic where provenance is increasingly seen as important both in terms of quality and, one suspects as badge of honour amongst the local silver community.
Research has also shown that the quality of service is a huge impact on brand perception and loyalty with “timely delivery” “courtesy” and “interaction” featuring as the three most common reasons why the Silver Consumer would stick with one brand despite a financially enticing offer from a competitor.
“we’ve been placing our weekly order of fruits, vegetables and meats with the local farm shop and, whoever delivers, they always drop the box at the door, ring the bell and then wait to ask if we’re ok and if they can help with anything. We ordered once from a big national store and they just put to boxes on the step, rang the bell and then left” – a direct quote from a close neighbour (delivered at over 2 meters of course)
Clearly interaction and communication are critical aspects of retention for any brand but to retain the Silver sterling all content and the customer experience must be created intelligently and be relevant or even sensitive to the demographic. The manner and simplicity of the customer experience far outweighs some short-term cost savings. My father (78) used to regularly shop with a well-known Outdoor Brand for thermals and walking gear. However, once they started bombarding him with promotions for running kit, he switched brands within 4 weeks because in his words “it’s shoddy and lazy”.
So, in this demographic, especially, a sense of interest in the individual and understanding of their needs plays a critical role in retaining the progress made during lock down. The last 3 months have exposed a significant new audience with money to spend and in digital terms it’s all about the KISS – keep it simple stupid. A term coined by the US Navy in the sixties.
John Maeda is a computer scientist — and an artist. He’s the President of the Rhode Island School of Design and founder of the SIMPLICITY consortium at the MIT Media Lab. His book, The Laws of Simplicity meditates on ways in which we can reduce unnecessary functionality without a loss of value, in his words:
“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful”
At BORN we believe in that Commerce and Content combined creatively, to provide informative, entertaining and inspiring experiences, is the way to accelerate digital retail. However, what we also understand is that what we build has to demographically differentiated, peoples priorities are not only different but constantly shifting and the key to this is how we collect, analyse and apply customer data. But more on that to come.