As Internet use continues to increase in Australia and across the world, recent reports from Pew Internet and Sensis show that businesses on the web may want to re-examine their target audiences especially when it comes to certain activities, such as accessing information and purchasing products and services, which are increasingly accomplished through the web. Areas of the Internet once ruled by 18-33 year olds are now increasingly accessed by older generations and many online trends are popular among all Internet users.
In social media, a Pew Internet report in the United States indicates that while young adults aged 18-33 are most likely to use social networking sites, Internet users aged 45 and older had more than doubled their use of these sites from December 2008 to May 2010 and adults over 74 who accessed social networks quadrupled. The most significant web trend, according to the report, was consistently popular Internet activities that spanned across every age group, including search, e-mail, looking up health information, accessing news, online banking and purchasing goods and services.
In Australia, a similar trend can be seen in social media: a recent Sensis e-Business Report from September 2010 notes that the number of Internet users in their 40s accessing social networking sites increased by 26% compared to last year and users over 65 years of age saw a 9% increase in use of social media. As I mentioned in a previous post, Aussies are using social media to look for information and recommendations from others online when it comes to products, brands and services, and this is seen for all ages. Australians are also increasingly accessing the web from their mobile phones, a trend that also spans across all age groups.
These reports from the US and Australia demonstrate the need to know who your customers are, where they are getting their information and what they are looking for online (and elsewhere). The internet and social media is no longer dominated by Gen Y and relying on 'traditional' information outlets alone may not be enough for customers of any age.