Since we’re a digital agency we have a bias towards online trends and usage numbers. We don’t discount the offline world, but we’re confident that the current migrations to online channels will not only continue, but accelerate, until “offline” is just “online” presented on media such as billboards, shop windows, hospital walls, and other interactive devices in the environment. One myth we have heard on occasion is that the older audiences are not online. Here are two sources of data that might clarify things a bit…
PEW Internet Data
As it is with the ambient environment becoming more digital, so too are the full range of demographics in the US steadily marching toward digital saturation. This is a series of charts I made a while back, and keep updated based on the latest demographic information from PEW Internet (note that the “Usage over Time” spreadsheet supplied by PEW only goes to August 2012). The charts build on one another to show common activities by age group:
Most Americans are online, and the trend is unmistakable. There are two forces at work here:
- Society is increasingly online, so even the boomers and 65+ groups are pulled there by the services available, and,
- Over time the age groups “age in” to usage as people who were using the internet in the boomer age group move into the 65+ group (and continue using the internet).
You want to reach 90%+ of your online market? Email is your channel.
Likewise, search is 80%+ across the age groups. This is your gateway tool to help all users find your materials.
The advantage of the PEW data is that they have a very strong reputation for accuracy. The data is fairly old, however, so what do the latest numbers show?
Google released a report: Reaching Today’s Boomers & Seniors Online. This report shows now only that the older generations are online, but that their online usage habits are surprisingly similar to the younger groups. Some of the findings of the report:
The Internet is the first choice for finding information:
For those who watch video online, YouTube is the number one channel:
Social networking is surprisingly popular among boomers and seniors:
- 71% of boomers are on social
- 54% of seniors are on social
Facebook is by far the most popular channel for these age groups… and this reflects the population at large:
Online boomers and seniors are there to be challenged, and health is their number one topic of interest:
Boomers and Seniors are Online
We knew this, but it just gets more and more apparent… boomers and seniors are online and their usage mimics the younger demographics. There are a few percentage points between the groups, but the evidence all points to substantial, and growing, online usage. We are rapidly heading to saturation where the entire audience is online, and if you want to reach them, you need to be there in force.