‘Showrooming’ not quickening death of high street and age-based digital divide is disappearing, says iProspect study

Showrooming is “rarely practiced” across all age groups, according to an iProspect study, which has dismissed the idea that the online shopping boom and the ‘showrooming’ phenomenon are causing the death of the high street.

The ‘Ageless Internet: From Silver Surfers to Golden Geeks’ study conducted in March by Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of iProspect, was based on an online panel of 1,012 UK adults aged 30+.

It revealed that only seven per cent of people aged between 30 and 49 years old research in-store and buy online, while only five per cent people over 50 do so. Instead it has found ‘reverse showrooming’ to be a more common behavior among those aged between 50 and 59, with 30 per cent of them stating they research online and shop in-store.

However, this habit drops off with the older age groups, with a quarter of people in their sixties claim the do so and only 22 per cent of 70+ year olds research online before shopping in-store.

The study’s findings also challenged the myths around technology adoption and digital media habits among older people, revealing that older generations are just as digitally confident and socially engaged as their younger counterparts.

Confidence in technology and internet use is as high among the 50+ generations, as it is among 30-49 year olds.

Meanwhile people aged over 50 years old do not see age as an online barrier, access the internet more often, use multiple devices including smartphones, tablets and e-readers and are regular social media users. Chris Whitelaw, CEO of iProspect, said: “A patronising approach to older generations needs to be put to rest. 50+ feel they are just as confident and as digitally savvy as younger generations. “Internet and technology usage among older generations presents the classic characteristics of late adopter behaviour. Younger generations’ digital media habits are more advanced only because they have been online longer than their older counterparts. Therefore, less sophisticated online behaviour is due to stage of adoption, rather than age. 70+ came to the internet slower than 50-59 year olds so their skills may be more rudimentary but they are catching-up fast, especially when it comes to online shopping. “All too often 50+ are lumped together in an all-inclusive category but the research has identified key differences between those in their 50s, 60s and 70s, which cannot be ignored when engaging these distinct groups.”

BBC iPlayer and YouTube the two most commonly watched digitally channels

Online video is a popular way of viewing content for the older age groups, with BBC iPlayer and YouTube the top two most commonly watched digital channels. One in five of the 50+ age groups stated they watch videos on YouTube all the time, or quite often, with one in ten over 70s saying the same.A total 15 per cent of those in their fifties watch a movie or a video on YouTube at least once a day, and 33 per cent of those in their sixties watch movies on YouTube a few times a week – the same proportion as for the 30 to 49 year olds, according to the report. Meanwhile people aged over 70 years old are avid consumers of YouTube videos via tablet and smart TVs, with eight per cent of them claiming to use smart TV to access online videos compared to just two per cent of 30-49 year olds,and seven per cent of 50-59 year olds and four per cent of 60-69 year olds.

Facebook most popular platform

Facebook is the most popular platform across all the age ranges surveyed in the report, while Google+ and Twitter the least popular - with only nine per cent of 50+ year olds on Google +. Similarly, on average, only 18 per cent of over 50s have a Twitter account: 20 per cent of 50-59, 23 per cent of 60-69 and 10 per cent of 70+ year olds. Concerns around data security turn out to be unfounded according to the study. Younger and older generations are similarly comfortable with the level of data security on most popular and recognised websites – 66 per cent of 30-49 year olds and 67 per cent of 50+ year olds don’t see data security as a barrier when shopping online, rising to 69 per cent among 60-69 year old and 70+.The survey was created to ‘unravel’ the differences and similarities in technology and media attitudes between 50-59 year olds, 60-69 and 70+, who are often artificially placed in a single ‘over-50s’ catch-all category”. These were contrasted with a control group of 30-49 year olds.

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