Baby Boomers Feeding Money Into Online Sales

Who knew? Baby Boomers have become more comfortable with technology and have begun to spend money online. In fact, lots of it. More than 70% of consumers ages 45 to 55 made an online purchase in the past three months.

Consumers ages 56 to 66 spend the most online among all the  generations. In the past three months, they spent on average $367, more than double the amount of those ages 18 to 22 spend online. That's according to the Forrester Research study "The State of Consumers and Technology: Benchmark 2011, U.S."

The average online consumer owns two connected devices. Not surprisingly, the ability to go mobile will fuel the trend, with 79% of U.S. adults going online at least monthly and 78% of those adults going online daily. Not all generations view mobile similarly.

The benchmark report, released Wednesday and updated Thursday, points to consumers ages 23 to 45 leading the technology adoption curve. About six out of 10 consumers ages 23 to 31, and nearly half of consumers ages 32 to 45, own a smartphone. These generations are also the first adopters of tablets, at about 11%.

Nearly all online U.S. adults own a mobile phone, more than one-third own a smartphone, and close to half log on to the Internet through it at least monthly. Fifty-eight percent of consumers ages 23 to 31 own smartphones, and 67% fall into what Forrester calls the most sophisticated users because they rely on their phones for email, playing games, and checking news, sports and weather. They also use their phone to send text messages and watch videos.

The Forrester study suggests that consuming media has become popular online. While 91% of consumers 18 to 22 watch TV offline, 74% watch it online at least once weekly. The same age group also listens to online radio most, but consumers age 23 to 31 do the most reading online of magazines and newspapers online.

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