Baby boomers and how we use the Internet

It seems as if many marketers are excitedly talking about baby boomers these days, finally figuring out there are a lot of us, and we have become an affluent force online.

If your image of a computer geek is a scruffy, awkward kid in T-shirt and jeans, writes Brian Proffitt in, you may want to think again. The biggest technology adopters may well be the affluent over-50 powerhouse known as the Baby Boomer.

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More than 70 million boomers live, work and spend in the United States, nearly a third of the population. If you add the previous generation, the number of 50-plus Americans is 98 million, a segment of the population that’s expected to grow 34% between now and 2030, when nearly half of the nation will be aged 50 or over, according to a recent study from The Nielsen Company.

That is a huge economic force, one that has been shaping the U.S. private sector for a long time. But unlike previous generations, where the members “age out” of active spending and societal influence, the sheer size of the Boomer generation means that it will continue to be a force for a long time to come. By the middle of the 21st century, Nielsen reckons, there could be around 161 million 50-plus citizens in the country.

Already, this is a generation heavily influencing technology, just from it’s buying power. 41% of Apple customers are boomers, the Nielsen report states.

“From a practical standpoint, new technology helps them stay socially and intellectually connected with their contemporary world. Psychologically, it helps them to validate their self-image of being experiential, progressive and perpetually youthful,” the report stated.

Techno-Boomers’ Online Landscape

It’s not a good idea to plug all boomers in as ultra-savvy in all things tech. Like their children and grandchildren, they are selective in which elements of technology they like to use. Nielsen paints a picture of “techno-Boomers” — a subset of the senior crowd who are far more likely to own an electronic reader or an iPhone than the rest of their generation, who tend to gravitate toward desktops and laptops.

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