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Published on April 4th, 2007 | by Tom


No Surprises in New Baby Boomer Web Study

A new study of web usage by Baby Boomers fails to reveal any surprises–and that may be a surprise by itself.  The study of about 1200 Americans ages 40 and older was conducted by media company Third Age and marketing group JWT Boom.  Both organizations target middle aged consumers.  A couple of observations I have from the data:

Baby Boomers are not mobile:

82% are using a desktop computer to connect online;
17% are using laptops

Boomers’ top online priorities show they are still primarily using email and see the medium as an extension of print.  Shopping; not so much:

E-mail                                                  99%
Browsing the Web                                 95%
General research (background info)         92%
Reading online articles                           91%
Staying in touch with family/friends         90%
Product research before offline purchase  85%
Online shopping                                     73%

Unlike their Bubble Generation counterparts, Baby Boomers also tend to get online insight from offline sources:

79% would respond to promotional e-mails about products and services

92% have read about a Web site in a print article (magazine, newspaper) and then visited online

89% have seen a print ad and later visited the online site

83% have seen a Web site advertised on television and later visited it online

65% will visit a Web site address after hearing it on a radio commercial

No mention in the study of social media or music/video/photo sharing or downloads, podcasts or blogs.  Basically, Boomers are still living in Web 1.0.  Given that there are no real additional technical or cultural barriers to these useful applications, I wonder what explains the surprising latency.

5 Responses to No Surprises in New Baby Boomer Web Study

  1. Clyde Smith says:

    If you’re working off the press release, I don’t think there’s enough information to evalute Web 2.0 usage.
    The release does state:
    “What they’re not doing is watching videos, writing blogs, playing games or downloading music.”
    But that doesn’t give us enough info to evaluate their claims.
    I also wonder how much is affected by the relentless youth orientation of so many new projects. As more social networks and other Web 2.0 thingamajigs launch that cater to baby boomers, it will be interesting to see if there’s a big shift.
    Mostly I get underserved market out of this kind of thing and all sorts of folks are rushing in so we’ll see.

  2. BOOMj says:

    Just thought I would let you know about a new website dedicated to baby boomers called that your readers may be interested in. There are many nice sections (health, movies, finance, travel etc.) where you can meet new people as well as keep up on all the latest news, tips and goings on in the world. You guys should check it out if you feel so inclined. See ya.

  3. Lee says:

    Hi Tom. I’ve just tagged you for the 8-fact meme.

  4. Birdie says:

    “No mention in the study of social media or music/video/photo sharing or downloads, podcasts or blogs…”?
    Could that just be the RESEARCHERS’ bias showing? (i.e., “They won’t know what a blog is, anyway…”)
    We ARE out here, using the internet waaaay more than we let you know..brahahaha!

  5. You are right, it’s no surprise at all.

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