RealTime IT News

ISPs Need to Satisfy Older Market Segment

Internet service providers looking to tap into the next surge of subscribers may want to seek out senior citizens and Baby Boomers in the U.S. market.

According to Media Metrix, Inc., U.S. Baby Boomers and seniors comprise the fastest growing Internet access demographic group.

The research firm reports that the number of 45- to 64-year olds going on the Internet grew more than 18 percent last year, making the demographic group the fastest growing population on the Internet.

An analysis of the January 1999 to December 1999 Internet Report released Tuesday by Media Metrix (MMXI) indicates that the group currently comprises 20 percent of the online community. The group outpaced "Generation Y's" 18- to 24-year-old demographic cluster by more than one percent.

The analysis also shows that 45- to 64-year olds surf the Internet more frequently, remain online longer, and check out more Internet pages than their college-age counterparts. The group represents an online gold mine for ISPs and e-commerce businesses alike.

Doug McFarland, Media Metrix senior vice president, said lifestyle and health related sites were popular with the older group and ignoring the market segment would be a mistake.

"Internet marketers with an eye on the future are discovering how focusing on this overlooked, high-spending audience can be a wise business strategy," McFarland said.

While most adults age 50 or above are more likely to be intermediate Internet users testing the waters of the Internet, their heavy online habits have set them on a fast track to become fully accustomed to the Web. Compared to 18- to 24-year olds, the older group spend on average 6.3 more days on the Internet and view more than 178 unique Web pages each month.

McFarland said opportunities abound for Internet companies looking to fulfill the demands of the Baby Boomers and seniors.

"As older Americans discover more sites geared to their lifestyles, and as they become more comfortable using the Internet, we're likely to see much of their purchasing migrate to the Internet," McFarland said.