"Things are changing, and they change by demographic and age," Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Experian Marketing Services, tells Marketing Daily. "You have to keep in mind the age group you're marketing to in terms of creating a campaign."
According to Experian's "The 2010 digital marketer: Benchmark and trend report," adults 18-34 prefer instant messaging, text messaging, cell phones and social networking sites as their main sources of information and entertainment. Consumers older than 50, however, prefer the Internet to their mobile phones.
In fact, the Internet is quickly becoming the predominant source of media and entertainment across all age groups, Tancer says. However, consumers in different age groups use it for different reasons. Adults over 50 use the Internet to research financial and medical information, while those between 25 and 49 spend more time doing tasks like banking online and reading news.
At the same time, however, social networking -- once the domain of the young -- is becoming more popular among older age groups. Visits to Facebook -- the most popular of the 5,580 social networking sites -- increased 172% in 2009, according to the study. Site visits increased among every age group except the 18- to-24-year-old demographic.
"Many of us still consider it a young channel, but it's becoming more prevalent against all age groups," Tancer says. "As social media becomes more ubiquitous, we're going to have to pay more attention to that."
While paying attention to the age demographics of their target, marketers are also watching other factors that might influence a purchase decision. With the economic downturn, Tancer says there was an increase in email advertising touting savings and other deals as well as Internet searches that have to do with finding coupons or savings. Both findings would suggest marketers be more strategic when it comes to their digital marketing campaigns, Tancer says, adding, "The days are gone where we could just guess how people are going to search and build a campaign around that."
There is evidence, according to the study, that marketers are beginning to look at their customers more strategically. According to the study, emails promoting deals on in-store visits grew 50% in 2009, showing an increased understanding of consumer behavior where shopping often begins online. "Marketers have expanded their vision," Tancer says. "They've realized a lot of people start searches online and are finishing them in brick-and-mortar stores."
And when it comes to mobile marketing, the rise of smartphones will likely mean an increase in mobile strategies, even among the older demographics for whom the phone is primarily a voice communications device, Tancer says. "We're starting to be more and more amenable to marketing that comes through our phone," he says. "Just as in the social network world, we'll begin to see that cross age groups and demographics."