Over 50% of Seniors Now Online

In previous years, companies with older demographics haven’t always aggressively pursued the online market, believing that their target customers are more likely to be using traditional media sources than online search tools. While seniors still use the Internet less often than other generations, this consumer segment is becoming more and more tech savvy by the year, with Pew Research reporting that as of April 2012, over 50% of seniors across the US now are now online.

That’s right: 2012 marks the first year that 53% of those aged 65+ reported usage of Internet and email. The usage isn’t just occasional either, as 70% of seniors report using the Internet at least once in a typical day. DAC Group’s proprietary Kantar study on media usage showed that search engines were rated the #1 media source used amongst seniors, with 71% stating that they used search engines first or second when looking for business information. While print Yellow Pages are the second most preferred media type for those 65+, company websites and Internet Yellow Pages were ranked the third and fourth most used sources respectively, making three out the top four sources used by seniors accessible only on the Internet.

Pew Research found that the highest Internet usage in the 65+ demographic reported was from those aged 65-75, with drop offs in usage in the “G.I. Generation,” or those over 76 years of age. Still, Internet adoption in this segment has reached 34%, with 1 in 3 members of the generation using online sources to find information or send emails. From personal experience seeing my grandfather learn to use his computer, I can say that this generation certainly should not be discounted. My grandfather may not be a computer expert, but he is excellent at navigating email and the Internet, and most importantly, he has a great enthusiasm for it. It started with sites like eBay, where he found discounts on some of his routine purchases. Then he moved onto Groupon, an exciting new addition to the coupons he clips from newspapers and phone books. He has even started using Yelp to read up on new restaurants before visiting (and he isn’t alone, as Yelp’s latest demographic profile shows that 12% of users are over 65). He may not be using Facebook (yet), but you can bet he tells his friends and family all about the excellent deals he finds online.

The usage of Internet search, deal sites and IYP sites are growing steadily amongst senior citizens. Most older Americans find the online resources to be an excellent complement to traditional media. Is your business allocating resources to best reach your customers everywhere they are searching? In 2012, consumers of all ages are routinely using multiple resources to find business information. Keeping up with where your target consumer is searching can help keep your company one step ahead of the competition.

Rebecca Frantz, Marketing Research Assistant

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