Thursday, May 19

Recognizing Market Change

Research and Markets, which is a leading source for international market research and market data, may finally dispel some outdated ideas about seniors and the Internet with its new report, Seniors Online: How Aging Boomers Will Shake Up the Market. In the report, they reiterate that there is a contrast in computer and online usage among those 50-64 and those 65+ as is evident in a study by Kaiser Family Foundation (2004) and another by Pew Internet & American Life Project (2004).

Unlike today's seniors, boomers (post-World War II children born between 1946 and 1964) are dedicated Internet users and broadband fans. As they approach the next phase of their lives, the report says that they will challenge companies to keep up with their ever-demanding ways, both online and off. There is little doubt. For one thing, Boomers have $1 trillion in spending power. For another, the Boomer demographic is a perfect target for online marketing.

According to the report, they are frequent, engaged online users approaching a stage in life with major issues: the decision to stop working, investment planning, health care, downsizing a home. Other key questions answered in the report: How fast is the boomer online population growing, how will usage patterns differ between today's and tomorrow's seniors, what sites are boomers more likely to visit, and what changes in Web design will be necessary as Internet users age?

It will be an interesting challenge for communicators to appeal to both boomers and the other fastest-growing segment of the population. Ages 13-24 made up 37% of the U.S. population in 2000 with ages 13-18 making up 22% of the population. But regardless of how this challenge is addressed, one thing is certain: some long-held beliefs that seniors don't 'log on' are about to be dismantled. IMO, it's about time.



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