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People Aged 55 and Up Drive U.S. Web Growth

  |  December 10, 2004   |  Comments

Aging baby boomers are a potentially huge online market.

Young people largely drove the early stages of Internet growth in the U.S. But in the last four years, most new growth in Web adoption came from people aged 55 and up, according to a survey conducted by International Demographics.

A population bulge of baby boomers nearing retirement age is increasingly going online, opening up new opportunities for online marketers and advertisers, said Robert Jordan, president of International Demographics.

"The recent growth in Internet users indicates the Internet is maturing, in that it is becoming more democratic in its representation of all age groups," Jordan said. "Most of the new growth is coming from older age groups, including the aging Baby Boomer demographic. When you consider the huge purchasing power of this group, which continues to buy everything, including the most expensive products, there is a huge opportunity for e-commerce and e-marketing."

The findings are based on a regularly-conducted survey of 80 U.S. metropolitan markets with a combined population of 130 million. (Though not a national survey by definition, the findings traditionally correlate national trends.) Of that total population, 61.2 percent visit the Internet regularly, compared to 54.9 percent in 2000.

Internet Users by Age Group
Target Audience Base Internet Users Percentage of Target Group Using Internet Regularly Percentage of Total Adult Online Population
Age 18+ 129,232,008 79,084,760 61.2 100.0
Men, age 18+ 62,121,172 39,840,852 64.1 50.4
Women, age 18+ 67,110,832 39,243,904 58.5 49.6
Age 18-20 7,354,965 4,977,605 67.7 6.3
Age 21-24 9,333,217 6,326,183 67.8 8.0
Age 25-34 25,305,644 17,910,372 70.8 22.6
Age 35-44 27,348,038 18,925,278 69.2 23.9
Age 45-49 12,931,862 8,874,743 68.6 11.2
Age 50-54 11,371,218 7,594,237 66.8 9.6
Age 55-64 15,788,894 8,951,480 56.7 11.3
Age 65-74 11,888,865 4,270,826 35.9 5.4
Age 75+ 7,909,305 1,254,034 15.9 1.6
Source: International Demographics Inc.

The number of users aged 55 to 64 category increased as a percentage of total Internet audience from 9.5 percent to 11.3 percent in the past four years. The percent of that age group who regularly go online increased from 45.8 percent in 2000 to 56.7 percent this year.

In the 65 to 74 age group, the percent of total Internet audience grew from 4.6 to 5.4 percent. The percentage of people in that segment who regularly use the Web increased from 26.2 percent in 2000 to 35.9 percent this year.

Online users 75 and older grew from 1.3 percent in 2000 to 1.6 percent in 2004. The percentage of people in that age group who regularly surf, meanwhile, increased from 12.1 to 15.9 percent.

While people 55 and older group still only account for 18.3 percent of the total adult online population, it continues to grow. So will opportunities to market to that demographic in coming years, Jordan said.

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