Ageing consumers and e-commerce activities



Rybaczewska M & Sparks L (2022) Ageing consumers and e-commerce activities. Ageing and Society, 42 (8), pp. 1879-1898.

Technology, and particularly the internet, has transformed consumer and business behaviours. An ageing population is impacted by these contextual and operational changes. Understanding these impacts within an ageing population is important for businesses, organisations and individuals, and their e-commerce activities. Our study increases understanding about the online behaviour of older consumers. Our research question is: what is the impact of age and individual and household characteristics on the online behaviour of older consumers? This is important given the increasing assumption that all consumers are digitally enabled. We use data from the first wave of an innovative longitudinal study in Scotland (HAGIS – Healthy Ageing in Scotland) to explore ageing consumers and e-commerce activities. The United Kingdom (including Scotland) is the world's third largest e-commerce market, thus providing a suitable context. Our findings point to a shifting relationship between ageing consumers and e-commerce activities. Age is related to e-commerce activities but the ‘break-point’ for these activities is older than normally identified in academic and business practice. Sex is not a differentiator of activity but marital status is. Age and the contextual situation impact e-commerce, and have implications for access and capability, and link to questions over isolation. Important issues are raised for business and organisational practice, around service and other delivery for older people.

ageing; e-commerce; internet; Scotland; customers

Ageing and Society: Volume 42, Issue 8

Publication date31/08/2022
Publication date online25/01/2021
Date accepted by journal01/12/2020

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Professor Leigh Sparks

Professor Leigh Sparks

Deputy Principal