Friday, April 18, 2008

Are you forgetting an important group you should be marketing to?

What is the average age of the average on line individual merchant? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answer. I don’t know it either. I’m sure the figures can be easily found but it’s really not the point of this post anyway. The real important fact is that virtually every age range is represented. I would however lean towards the 20 – 25 year old age range if I had to take a guess.

The reason I bring this up is that I am seeing a very large segment of the buying audience somewhat being ignored when most companies start thinking about the marketing techniques. More and more of what is found on the internet is geared towards individuals below the age of 50. Considering the fact that the over 50 age group is becoming the largest group in the country, it seems pretty foolish not making serious efforts to market to them more aggressively.

Older web surfers are thirsting for more age relevant content according to a recent study and a majority feel that online advertising is out of step with their age group.

Burst Media recently conducted a survey of over 13,000 Internet users aged 18 years and over regarding their views on age focused online content, website design, and targeted online advertising.

While the majority of people up to the age of 44 feel content on the web is relevant to their age, only 35.4% of the 45-54 year segment believe online content is focused on people in their age bracket. Even fewer respondents aged 55 years and older agreed. This attitude extends beyond content and to design; even more so.

Equally as important for those of us involved with online business, over two-thirds of respondents 45-54 years, and more than 80% of respondents 55 years and older say online advertising is focused on people younger than they are.

The Internet is certainly not just a playground for the young any more, so I feel that many web marketers are leaving cash on the table by not being more responsive to this group. After all, it’s the mature age members of our society who tend to hold much of the wealth.

The last figures I remember seeing were from 2005 and they indicated that seniors control over 70% of all disposable income and at that point were spending over $7 billion online each year.

As the years go by, a senior citizen scared witless of the Internet is becoming increasingly uncommon. Most of the older folks I know are into it in a big way. These people have time on their hands, cash in their wallets and will spend it with you if you approach it the right way. While they may have the luxury of more time; they are also gun-shy, so making things difficult for them or alienating them with hip language and attempting to force youth-oriented messages down their throats will send them running. They want a good deal, but they also want substance, respect and for you to have credibility. Keep that in mind the next time you write your ad copy.

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