Not A Programming Joke

Who Is Not on the Internet Right Now?

According to Pew Research the age group using the internet the least right now are people over age 65. This might be because they prefer to do other things in their spare time than be on the internet, or they prefer to contact their friends without Facebook or they prefer to buy things in a store rather than deal with on line issues etc.

One important thing I noted here is that people over 65 did not get broken out like the decades before them (20-30, 40-50) - everyone over 65 is generally considered to be uniform. This attitude may have been useful up until now, but very soon, the 88% of 50-64 year olds on the internet will move into the 65+ category.

Did earlier life preferences shape this 65+ group’s later life choices? Generally we believe the 65+ group to be less nimble when changing behaviors, so I think it’s likely that this age group set their preferences early on. From speaking to people in this age bracket in my family, I’m convinced that these preferences are set, may stay set for the rest of our lives. My evidence for that is slim, but I have had family members say something like this: “…eventually people get tired of keeping up with the latest thing. Eventually they just want to do it the way they are comfortable doing it.” Proof!

So should anyone care?

Yes! Because people being on the internet usually is making someone money. ISPs, ad providers, consumer product sales, paid services, on line commerce of street-stores etc. all have a chance at making money when more and more people use the internet.

If you believe that retired people on a fixed income, have lower discretionary income and so are not a good source of spend. I would say that you should consider that 1. there are different kinds of seniors with different levels of income, and 2. some types of goods and services will appeal more to a person when they retire, such as travel or books, and so suddenly become more relevant (and so more purchased). For example, some groups of seniors golf more, go on cruises more, travel more, need more health care, buy more foods marked “sugar free” or “high fiber” etc.

Compared to tweens, and teens, and 20 somethings, retired people are a much faster growing group that develops new purchasing patterns as they reach retirement age

Quick Review

  1. the retired/elderly group is growing very fast
  2. some of them will have income to spend, and
  3. more and more of them will be going on line for products and services.

Part of the uniqueness of this age group is that their preferences will also come along with a particular paradigm for engaging those preferences. And I believe the way in which they engage those preferences will be as set as the preference itself. For example, I believe people will choose how they want to shop in their 40s and 50s, and will prefer to shop that way unless the new way that comes along is overwhelmingly better or easy or whatever.

Who is helping this growing group of tech-savvy, but possibly tech-frozen-in-time people, spend the most money on the internet? A good candidate is the XO group. They already help you plan your wedding, your baby, your home – why not leverage that position as a person’s life planning tool to help determine preferences that may be held for a long time thereafter?