THE GRAY MARKET: Part 2 - New Technology

  • by December 22, 2000
By Brad Adgate

Older Americans have not embraced new technologies as rapidly as younger age groups, but they are growing. Elderly online users are dubbed “Generation A” by marketers.

In August 2000, over four million Adults 65+ went online at home. News, finance and genealogy were among the more popular websites accessed.

Senior citizens also go online to send e-mails, shop, play computer or video games, download photographs of family members, get travel and/or health information, and even to download music files.

A recent AOL survey of Adults 55+ indicated that the Internet is bringing families closer together, especially in communicating with grandchildren (a less expensive alternative than a telephone call).

International Data Corporation (IDC) also reports that online merchants will cater more toward older Americans as they become more acclimated to the Internet. (An AARP study revealed that senior citizens are very responsive to direct marketing ads on television.)

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According to a study by National Retail Federation, Adults 65+ are the fastest growing age group using e-commerce, up from 4% in 1999 to 16% this year. Pharmacy goods, books, music, clothing, and computer hardware/software are among the products purchased online.

Nielsen Net-Ratings reports in its August 2000 at home audience profile, that Adults 65+ with Internet access spent slightly over ten hours online during the month, which was one hour more than teens did.

Older Americans had more online sessions (twenty-three) than any other demographic, but have a lower number of pages viewed (five hundred seventy-one) than any other age group (excluding kids).

Hence, older Americans are more likely to surf the web than stay in one particular website and “mine” information. Older men (55%) are more likely to go online than older females (45%).

Also the Nielsen-Net Ratings at home sample reveal that during August 2000, Adults 65+ with Internet access are more likely to be online than any other age group between the hours of 8a.m.-6p.m. Adults 65+ online usage peaks between 4-6p.m.

Nielsen-Net Ratings also reported that during July 2000 Adults 65+ had a banner ad “click-through rate” of 0.37, higher than any age group with the exception of kids who had a rate of 0.67.

While senior citizens own color television sets, VCR’s, camcorders, CD Players and a growing number now surf the web, they often lag behind the “early adapters” in newer home technologies.

Surveys conducted by Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Nielsen’s quarterly Home Technology Survey report that older Americans are less inclined to own personal computers, pagers, beepers, PDA’s, DVD Players, and cellular or cordless phones.

Among the reasons cited for the reluctance to purchase a new consumer electronic product were cost, the necessity of owning one and “ease of use”.

Brad Adgate is Senior VP, Director of Research at Horizon Media Inc.

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