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Over-50 Crowd Increases Online Spending

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The online economy has discovered a valuable demographic: old folks. This group has more disposable income than any other, and data suggests the individuals comprising it are becoming much more comfortable with the Internet.

The Nielsen/NetRatings consultancy reported 7.4 million people age 55 or older made a purchase online in the last six months, up from roughly 2.6 million a year ago. And as that market grows, another may be shrinking: the number of adults who made purchases dropped from 112 million to 107.4 million.

Howard Byck, vice president of business development for AARP Services, also had some impressive figures. He reported that 40 percent of the U.S. population is 50 or older, but that this group holds 75 percent of the country’s financial assets. “In many ways marketers have taken the 50-plus market for granted,” Byck said. “The reality is that you can’t do that anymore.”

The AARP is expanding its online presence, and is helping members do the same. Travelocity executive Philip Charles-Pierre said his company’s effort to reach out to the AARP was “extraordinarily successful.” After creating a site called the AARP Passport, sales rose 300 percent from the same period a year ago.

Some sites have discovered that an older demographic requests more customer service. But most feel the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. “Once they get beyond the technological barrier and get into the groove, they tend to be some of our most passionate members,” said David A. Joseph, vice president of corporate communications and strategy for Audible.

One other concern is that marketing attempts not make seniors feel old. The AARP Passport program found success by portraying people “who are above 50, 70, 80 doing things they may not have had the chance, or the money, to do when they were younger,” said Charles-Pierre.

Baby boomers and seniors are proving to be a valuable and largely untapped market for online sales. Companies would do well to draw attract their business.

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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.

Over-50 Crowd Increases Online Spending
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