Oct 28, 2009

Online buying not limited to just younger generations

If your business has been avoiding E-commerce because you think your target market doesn’t buy things online, you may be making an expensive mistake.

According to the report Generations Online released earlier this year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, an amazing 71 percent of all online adults use the Internet to make purchases.

Even more interesting, older Americans are turning to the Internet in greater numbers than ever – and a large number of them are now using the Internet to research products and make purchases. Over the past few years the greatest growth (by percentage) in online users was for the age 70-74 group. In 2005, just 26 percent of this age group used the Internet. By 2008 (the survey’s end date), 45 percent of Americans age 70-74 were online.

For detailed survey results, you can check out the resources available at the links I gave above. But it’s also worth noting not just how many people are online, but also what they’re doing once they get connected.

There is plenty of good news in the report for E-commerce providers. According to the survey, 71 percent of online adults used the Internet to make a purchase. While it’s no surprise that purchasing activity is dominated by the age groups between 18 – 44, ‘Boomers’ and older Americans are no strangers to shopping online.

68 percent of younger Boomers (age 45-54) bought something online in 2008, as did 72 percent of older Boomers (age 55-63). Also note that the purchasing trend is fairly strong for the 64-and-older groups – around half of the Internet users in those age groups report buying something online.

Now, note that the report concerns percentages of the various demographic groups that use the Internet – and not the percentage of that group’s total population. It’s an important distinction, of course, because not everyone uses the Internet – especially among members of the older age groups. But the bright side to that – pointed out in the first part of the Pew study – is that the strongest growth in Internet use over the past three years has been among older Americans.

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