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Study: Baby Boomers Not Interested in Social Networking Web Sites

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June 02, 2008

Study: Baby Boomers Not Interested in Social Networking Web Sites

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Separating itself from the Internet’s younger generation, the population bulge known collectively as the baby-boomers say they’re not interested in social networking Web sites, according to a new survey.
Rather, those born in the two decades following World War II are most interested in word-of-mouth recommendations, expert opinions, trusted brands and Internet privacy, according to a survey unviled today by ThirdAge and JWTBOOM, a boomers’ Web site and marketing agency, respectively.

ThirdAge Chief Executive Officer Sharon Whiteley said the research shows that boomers aren’t as interested as their children in today’s “social media playground.”
“Boomers are using more traditional Web communication tools, such as e-mail, to keep in touch with their existing group of friends in order to share photos and, more importantly, life experience,” Whiteley said. “That said, boomers in general are interested in connecting and interacting with others in their community around shared interests and common issues. They relate to people sharing a similar life phase, and they trust those who have walked in their shoes.”
The boomers, by the group’s sheer size, money and power – form a coveted demographic for anyone selling anything.
Boomers alone account for 78 million people and control more than 83 percent of consumer spending, according to the companies that produced the survey. Forty percent of the United States’ population is over 45, with 50 percent market growth projected over the next 15 years. Boomer spending will increase $800 billion to over $4.6 trillion by 2015.
Here are some other popular Internet uses that the 1,800-person survey found boomers are “not yet” interested in: blogs, podcasts, music downloads and group gaming.
According to the survey, 53 percent of boomers had never visited social networking sites; 47 percent cited concerns over privacy and having personal information on the Web; 39 percent said they’re too busy; and 32 percent see no benefit in spending time social networking.
Though 75 percent of respondents said they’d received e-mail promotions about products and services and then clicked through to the site being promoted, it appears that print media for the boomers. According to the survey, 93 percent of respondents who read an article about a Web site in a newspaper or magazine have later visited the site online.
JWT BOOM President Lori Bitter said boomers participate in online communities to talk about different products and brands.
“They are also open to both traditional marketing and e-marketing, as long as the message is coming from a brand they know and trust,” Bitter said.
Michael Dinan is a TMCNet Editor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
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