Elderly don’t use the internet, or do they?

Here’s something we hear a lot: “I don’t need a website because most of my customers are elderly, and don’t use the internet.” If you’re one of the pharmacy owners saying this, you might be surprised to learn that the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s why, and why that matters:

The elderly are more online than you think

Like most stereotypes, the stereotype of the technologically-illiterate elderly person is not based on reality. In fact, while most people over the age of 85 don’t use the internet very often, an MSD study found that a whopping 90% of people aged 65-74 use the internet on a regular basis!

You would agree that businesses across all matter of industries are forcing this shift – we do our banking online, our grocery shopping online, and we pay our power bills on the internet. So not only are our older generations given no choice but to change, they’re using these services online because they’re convenient.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer – access to such services online can be significantly convenient to anyone, but particularly those less mobile and immune compromised. Give them the option to avoid crowds, traffic and bad weather and let them get their health related errands done from the comfort and safety of their own home.

What are our elderly doing online?

Statistics NZ surveyed the 65+ age group back in 2012 about what they do online. Coming in hot in the top 3 activities only after internet banking and online shopping, is using the internet to look up health services.

Internet users aged 65 yesrs or over graph from Statistics NZ

People of all ages turn to Dr Google for advice at the first sign of a niggle – and what age group is likely to have the most health concerns? Our aging population.

Older people are spending money online too. Two years ago, Stats NZ found that the majority of people aged 75 and older felt safe buying things online. At the same time, online spending had grown four times faster than other spending.

So if you think your elderly customers aren’t online, think again. Meet our older generations where they’re looking for answers and where they’re ready to spend their money by setting up a website with the information that will be most relevant to them.

They’re a big portion of your customer base

Think about the customers who visit your pharmacy the most often. How old are they, on average? We don’t know your business, but we’re pretty confident estimating that your most frequent customers are closer to 80 than they are to 20.

This won’t be news to you – as people get older, they develop more health problems, which means they naturally need to spend more time and money in your pharmacy.

In business terms, this means a significant portion of your largest group of customers is using the internet every day. Depending on your pharmacy’s demographics, this may represent more than half of your total customers.

This is one reason to make sure your pharmacy is equipped with the tools you need to sell products and market your business on the internet. Since older people are online, and they also form a significant part of your customer base, it makes sense for you to meet them online.

It’s a growth market!

If older people are a big part of your customer base now, they’re going to be even bigger in five or ten years. It’s no secret that New Zealand, like most developed countries, has an aging population. On average, people had more babies in the 40s, 50s and 60s than they did in subsequent decades. What’s more, more of them are going to be online. Remember that MSD report from the start of this article? It found that 90% of people of people aged 65-74 use the internet, but 97% of people under the age of 65 use the internet!

This means that the 90% of today’s 74 year olds will be 84 years old in 10 years – and they’ll all still be online. The same goes for today’s 55 year olds, and so on.

If you forecast these numbers forward, you can see what the future looks like: a large amount of older people seeking out health information online, armed with their credit cards ready to spend money online. By getting your website in order and making online sales easy, you can meet this wave of customers, and really set your pharmacy up for the future.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get setup with a website, and get ready to help serve your older customers, today.