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A cross‐generational examination of electronic commerce adoption

Karen Leppel (Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA)
Donna W. McCloskey (Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




Given the increasing number of older individuals, exploration of age differences in attitudes toward and participation in electronic commerce is critical. This paper aims to address this issue.


Data were collected on three age groups: 18 to 25, 50 to 69, and 70 and older. Descriptive statistics were explored and chi‐squared statistics were calculated to perform tests of independence on age, participation, and attitudes.


Compared to younger respondents, those 50 and older showed greater concern about security issues and more frustration in their pursuit of product information. Respondents aged 50 to 69 made online purchases more often and were more likely to be big spenders than those 70 and older and those 18 to 25. Those 70 and older rarely made internet purchases but they did seek online information on products and services.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is needed using larger sample sizes to allow exploration of differences in attitudes between individuals aged 50 to 69 and those aged 70 and over. Also, research in areas outside of Pennsylvania is needed to corroborate the findings.

Practical implications

Online firms that provide medical supplies and food are well positioned for elderly shoppers, since those items are large shares of their budgets. However, online firms must take into consideration the frustrations and security concerns of the aging population.

Social implications

Online shopping could become the boon of the elderly by eliminating physical stresses of shopping.


The paper provides managers with a rare analysis of age differences in attitudes toward and participation in online shopping.



Leppel, K. and McCloskey, D.W. (2011), "A cross‐generational examination of electronic commerce adoption", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 261-268.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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