There’s a growing cadre of older people online, and they’re an attractive demographic, according to Focalyst, a joint venture of the AARP and Millward Brown, a market research and branding company. The researchers found that “matures” spend 750,000,000 minutes a day on the Internet (sounds like a song from Rent–the AARP version of 525,600 Minutes).

Focalyst calls the group of people age 62 and over “Matures Online.” The Insight Report: April 2008 finds that matures are just as likely to be persuaded by an Internet ad as younger consumers. Is this what Martha would consider a “good thing” or not-so-good? Well, it is what it is.

Regardless of where you sit on that that response, here’s a remarkable fact: 1 in 4 Americans over 80 is online.

The table details Focalyst’s findings on what older people do online:

– 6 in 10 matures use search engines

– 6 in 10 matures keep in touch online with family and friends

– 1 in 2 matures gathers information

– 2 in 5 look for health information.

Focalyst found “greater purchase intent” when it comes to older people looking at specific categories of online ads, especially pharmaceutical advertising and insurance. This signifies greater engagement in these topics, which is not surprising. However, there is also substantial engagement in categories such as consumer goods, travel, and entertainment — including movies, TV and games (Scrabulous or Sudoku, anyone?).

Health Populi’s Hot Points: TV and print are still the top 2 used media among matures, but the Internet is growing as “media channel of choice,” according to Focalyst. By 2011, the number of online uses 62+ will grow 51%.

The data on health conditions and aging is well-known. As boomers age into the mature cohort, they will use the Internet for health and wellness applications. Games will continue to be developed that target health: see Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s excellent ongoing work into games and health. Ignore this trend, marketers, at your peril.

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