The Older The Better

There remains a common misconception that social media and use of the Net are solely the domain of the young.

A new report from Neilsen has confirmed that as populations age, the significance of consumers over the age of 50 will grow in importance.

“Already in the U.S., the Baby Boom generation accounts for the largest share of sales of any generation across most product categories. Understanding this new marketplace will be essential for brands that will grow in the 21st century.”

Baby Boomers will redefine what it means to be old in exactly the same manner as they redefined what it meant to be young and middle aged.

Despite the global recession that has scuppered or delayed many peoples retirement plans, the baby boomer generation remains one of the most affluent and prepared for retirement.

A lot of online marketing focus has been on the Milliennials, those aged 18-33, while the affluent and retiring bay boomers have somewhat slipped off the radar.

It is true that Millennials are more likely to do the following:

  • Use social networking sites
  • Use instant messaging
  • Use online classifieds
  • Listen to music
  • Play online games
  • Read blogs
  • Participate in virtual worlds

But a recent Pew Internet survey discovered that internet users in Gen X (those ages 34-45) and older cohorts are more likely than Millennials to engage in several online activities, including visiting government websites and getting financial information online.

The fastest growth in the use of social media has come from internet users 74 and older: Site usage for this oldest cohort has quadrupled since 2008, from 4% to 16%.

The jury is out on whether blogging is is being surplanted by the use of other social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

The middle aged and older are sticking with it even if younger generations are losing interest.

The Pew survey shows that among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier.

Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent.

One of the most popular platforms, WordPress, recorded more than 6 million new blogs in 2010 with pageviews up 53%.  There were 23 billion WordPress page views last year and new posts were up 110% to 146 million. Hardly an online activity on the wane.

People reading blogs on WordPress

Defining the Generations:

US Online Activity

According to eMarketer the US senior population by 2030 will reach an estimated total of 72 million, nearly 20% of the projected total population.

While traditional media is still the main focus for seniors, the internet is quickly increasing its reach. Online penetration among older users is beginning to rival newspaper and radio usage, and this trend is expected to continue, reaching 56.0% by 2015.

All evidence points to seniors using the web for increasingly varied activities, graduating from email and search into social media.

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About thedigitalconsultant

Roger Smith is an international, digital consultant and former British Council Director of Online Operations within the East Asia region. http://thedigitalconsultant.blogspot.com
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