Baby Boomers Continue to Expand Online Activities

If you still have doubts about whether baby boomers and seniors are online, just take a look at the recent report from the Pew Research Center.  You’ll see that their activities are as wide ranging as the younger generations.  But there is another noteworthy data point, the differences in how younger and older boomers use the web can be very, very different.  If your business is baby boomers, deciding how you use the Internet to reach these two groups is really important.

For example, younger boomers, ages 45-54 are more likely to watch videos online (49%) than older boomers age 55 to 63 (30%).  But when it comes to looking for health information, 81% of older boomers are researching online compared to 74% of younger boomers.                                                    

Here’s what younger and older boomers are doing diffrently online (first number is younger boomers):   

Use social networking (20% , 9%)

Download podcast ( 19%, 12%)                         

 Get job info (43%, 36%)                                     

  Buy a product online  (68%,72%)                    

 Watch videos online  (49%, 30%)                       

Younger and older  baby boomer online users have some similar online behaviors as well:  use a search engine (905,89%); read blogs (27%, 25%); use email (90%);  travel research and purchase (69%,66%); and research a product (82%, 79%).

At the What’s next Boomer Business Summit (  we’ll be looking at how to use social media to reach boomers, blogging, search strategies and Google adwords to market to baby boomers.  Betsie Gambel, Senior Vice President, Keating Magee  will be presenting research and recommendations on how to reach older boomers.  Bill Leake, Apogee Search, will be talking abou search engine optimization; Sam Decker, chief Marketing Officer, Bazaarvoice will be talking about how ratings and reviews can engage your boomer audience online.   

The Pew Internet research, Generations Online in 2009 is  available at:                                

How do online users breakdown by generation: 

 Generation Y -30%;

Generation X, 23%;

Younger Boomers, 22%,

Older Boomers, 13%, 

Silents -7%,

GI Generation 4%. 


So, the boomers make up a total of 35% of the online users — a market worth pursuing!




Baby boomers more digital than ever

The Silver Summit at the Consumer Electronic Show was quite an experience.  The program put together by Susan Walker, Robin Raskin and Mike Sarfartti was great! Eric Dishman of Intel gave a compelling presentation on the need for reform on Digital Health. He shared three important trends: Demographic Disruption and showed a map of what the world would look like in 2020; Technology Disruption and Economic Disruption. These three forces together cause a need for innovation and reform. I had the privilege of hosting a panel on lifestyles. Lee Ranie, of Pew Internet Research group gave an important update on the changes of the boomers regarding 2.0 media. He gave the following data points of boomer use of 2.0 media in 2008: 74% use the Internet, 62% have broadband at home; 72% use a cell phone, and 43% connect to the Internet wirelessly.. What is new and important is the move toward fast, mobile computing among the boomers.  

The ‘other news’ according to Pew is the growth of social networking applications. Pew research cited the following: 91% of the boomers use search engines; 78% search in health care, 30% use online ratings, 38% share video feeds, 26% read blogs, 17% share creations, 16% have a social network profile, and 7% blog.

 Also on the panel, Howard Byck, shared the latest strategy regarding the lifestyle area at AARP. He discussed the uber environmental trends of increasing singledom, delayed retirement, going green and technology. He also talked about the AARP member’s (40 million strong) unmet needs for control, thriftiness, desire to stay fit and achieve peace of mind. These trends and needs were important to their new strategy for products and services related to travel and entertainment, discounts health and wellness, lifelong learning, technology products and services and pets. 

 The increase of boomers using social media is why we decided to make that an anchor theme for the What’s Next Boomer Summit ( in Las Vegas on March 19. In this down economy, every dollar spent has to matter. We want to help our conference sponsors and attendees develop sales strategies that can work in this new economy. With consumers spending less, it simply takes more of them to meet 2009 goals.  Finding more business means a fresh look at new strategies and new distribution channels.
Hope you will be joining us on March 19 in Las Vegas.
Mary Furlong

Baby Boomers Key Demographic for Marketers

Baby boomers remain the most important demographic for marketers, according to a survey by the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG).  78% of the executives rated baby boomers the most important demographic – up from 72% last year.

And yes, they are increasingly interested in the younger generations (X and Y), but the focus on the boomer market remains strong.  Boomers may have less money than they did a year ago, but they still have greater spending power than other generations.

Other findings from this survey of senior marketing executives:

Key concepts these top marketers are focusing on include: customer satisfaction, customer retention, marketing ROI, SEO and brand loyalty.

You can find the complete survey results at

We’ll be digging into many of these key marketing concepts at the What’s Next Boomer Summit.  New research on what boomers are looking for in light of economic changes, finding and engaging boomers online, using SEO and Google to make sure boomers find you online. 

 Check out the program at

Baby boomers use of technology and online search strong

Lots of news out of the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas last week.  And a research study confirming what many of us know –older people are using technology and at similar rates to younger people.  They may be slower to adopt technology, but once they do, they integrate it into their life.

We’ll be covering boomers and technology at the Boomer Summit on March 19. The results of this survey confirm that technology can be a great way to reach this market and should be part of the marketing strategy of any company trying to cultivate boomer and senior customers.  So plan on joining us there to hear more about how boomers are using technology including online social networking and search.

TNS Compete and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® joint study, “Greying Gadgets: How Older Americans Shop for and Use Consumer Electronics” reveals that the age segments of 50-somethings, 60-somethings and 70+ use many technologies at or near comparable rates as younger age segments.

Consumers in their 50s are as likely to own, or plan on buying, an HDTV as those under 50.

 Eighty percent of 60-somethings used a cell phone in the past week, nearly equal the usage rates of 18-34 year olds.

 Additionally, 71 percent of 60-somethings and 52 percent of 70-somethings used a search engine in the past week, compared to 77 percent of 18-34 year olds.

Not all technologies have comparable usage rates among age groups. Younger demographics are much more likely to play video games, use portable MP3 players and visit certain websites, and their usage rates of social networking sites nearly double the older age segments.

“In any environment, but particularly one with difficult market conditions, companies need to learn more about how to effectively reach this critical segment of older consumers,” said Elaine Warner, director, consumer technologies, TNS Compete.

The study also showed that the majority of older Americans are comfortable researching and purchasing electronics products. Across all demographics, the Internet is an integral part of the research process. Older Americans do, however, rely more heavily on in-person information sources. Sixty-three percent spoke with a sales associate in-person when researching their consumer electronics purchase, compared to 47 percent of those aged 18-49.

Older consumers reported a higher level of frustration with the complexity of technology. Sixty percent of consumers aged 50 and older indicated that a product having too many features was a main reason for being frustrated with technology, compared to 39 percent of consumers aged 18-49.

“While satisfaction with CE products is high, frustrations do exist and this should be viewed as an opportunity for companies to seek ways to better address the technology needs of older Americans,” said Tim Herbert, CEA’s senior director of market research.

 A webinar on the survey is being held Thursday, February 5th at 2pm EST .  To register for the webinar visit: