Baby boomers have the time, money and lifestyle
to fuel broadband growth. Never has it been so
hip to target the 55 and up demographic.
"The sheer number of baby boomers, a cohort
of 78 million people [in the US] born between
1946 and 1964, makes it a dominating force in
shaping social currents and marketplace trends.
Boomers?economic power, always impressive, is
taking on new meaning as they age."
--Yankelovich Partners, May 2002
Baby boomers created the internet, Gen Xers
tried to make money on it and Gen Yers are
growing up with it. As baby boomers?grow older,
they will again be a significant driving force
of change within the internet sector.
The age range that will show the greatest growth
in the US over the next 10 years is the 55 to
64 bracket, according to the Census. This age
group will grow 48%; the total population will
only grow 9% over the same period. The baby boomer
phenomenon is not restricted to the US -- it is
apparent in many countries around the world.
Research from Pew Internet & American Life
indicates that more people ages 35 to 54 have
broadband than they do dial-up at home. This is
particularly apparent in the 45 to 54 age range,
no doubt because this group is better able to
afford $50 per month for broadband.
According to a recent report from Nielsen//NetRatings,
older internet users were the fastest growing
segment using broadband in December 2002. Nearly
3 million surfers ages 55 to 64 accessed the web
via high-speed connections, surging 78% year-over-year.
More than 3.1 million internet users ages 50 to
54 logged online using faster connections last
month, up 75%.
Further research from Pew shows
that one of the significant lifestyle changes
that occur for broadband internet users is increased
time working from home. One can assume that since
baby boomers make up a large percentage of the
broadband population, it is predominantly these
people who are increasing their time working from
Considering all these statistics, it appears that
the broadband baby boomer will be an important
demographic segment for marketers, retailers and
service providers in the coming years. These people
will want greater amounts of online health information,
more sophisticated online tools to manage their
finances, better and simpler applications so they
can keep in touch with friends and family, and
home networking or home office devices and services.
People are living longer and working longer, and
a broadband connection will be the umbilical cord
that sustains a productive aging population.
The media, marketing and retail obsession with
targeting the teen and Gen Y demographic is misplaced.
Gen X marketers and service providers may be better
served by going home and having a good chat with
their parents for insight into the next killer
app online. They are the ones with the money,
and they are the ones who will increasingly utilize
the internet for productive ends in the next 10
By: Ben Macklin