Don't You Dare Call Them Old!
Don't You Dare Call Them "Old"
Baby boomers and silver surfers are still rockin' online.
Many marketers, particularly online, concentrate on reaching younger users. But that could be a multibillion-dollar mistake. Overall, older Americans make up the most affluent segment of the US population. And they are online.
"Internet usage by baby boomers-and over-60s-is projected to continue rising well into the future," says Paul Verna, eMarketer Senior Analyst and author of the new report, Baby Boomers and Silver Surfers: Two Generations Online. "Coupled with the discretionary income they have at hand, this creates an irresistible opportunity for online marketers."
eMarketer projects that, over the next five years, the number of US baby boomers who use the Internet at least once a month will grow by more than 5 million, from 58.2 million in 2006 to 63.7 million in 2011.
"Baby boomers are diverse, notoriously difficult to pigeonhole and sometimes overlooked by marketers, who are generally more interested in catering to younger and more active consumers of goods, services and media," says Mr. Verna. "But boomers wield enormous economic clout and are increasingly turning to online and mobile channels for a wide variety of needs, including e-commerce, financial services, travel, entertainment, health and wellness information, news and user-generated content."
Silver surfers, or over-60s, are also a large segment of the US Internet population, growing from 17.7 million Internet users in 2006 to 25.3 million by 2011.
"Silver surfers-also known as ‘the silent generation'-are also typically passed over by online marketers because most of them reached retirement age before computers and broadband access became ubiquitous in homes and offices, so their online habits are not as ingrained as those of their younger counterparts," says Mr. Verna. "Nevertheless, their spending power and growing presence online should serve as a wake-up call to marketers who might have their sights set elsewhere."
Over-60s may not be as numerous or influential online as younger generations, but they are determined to use the Web to further a broad range of interests, hobbies and professions.
"And what no marketer should forget," says Mr. Verna, "is that these two demographic groups have money to spend-lots of it."
Taking boomers as an example, The Conference Board found that boomers, on average, have more discretionary income than any other segment of the US population-over $24,000 a year per household.
"To focus on younger demographics at the exclusion of boomers and over-60s, as some marketers have done, is to miss a potentially huge opportunity to tap into a large, vibrant, diverse and fast-growing segment of the US Internet population," says Mr. Verna.