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The 77.2 million people now between ages 44 and 62—known for decades now as the “baby boomers”—know they are aging, but they do not expect to get old. They plan to retire, but not on the same schedule as their parents and grandparents before them. Most expect to work until age 70, and the latest economic downtrend has reinforced their thinking.
Their motto used to be, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Now they don’t trust anyone under 40, except maybe their own kids.
Boomers have never lacked for attitude, and now they make up the largest group of US Internet users. At 56.7 million strong they constitute nearly 30% of the online population.
As a result, where boomers go—and what they do—online matters. It matters a lot. But…
“Marketers targeting boomers online would be mistaken to treat them all alike,” says Lisa Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Boomers Online: Attitude Is Everything. “Older boomers, ages 54 to 62, use media more like the ‘matures’ who precede them, and younger boomers, ages 44 to 53, act more like Gen Xers online.”
About 74% of boomers use the Internet at least once a month.
However, their attitude toward the Internet is less a love affair and more a marriage of convenience. They go online to get things done, such as finding information on products and services, shopping, and staying in touch with friends and family.
“How boomers use the Internet today is indicative of how they will use it as they age into their 70s and 80s,” says Ms. Phillips.
Most authorities believe that boomers will remain online and engaged as long as their health and abilities permit, and recommend that technology providers begin preparing now to met their changing needs.
“Marketers who pigeonhole boomers as just aging seniors—and expect their Internet use to dwindle—will find their brands ignored and distrusted by this judgmental generation,” says Ms. Phillips.
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