Technology, it is often said, is something for young people. But the Baby Boomer generation born in the years after World War 2 has dominated social change at every stage of their lives.


2015 is no different. With more time on their hands in retirement and more wealth than other demographics, the Baby Boomers might not be “digital natives” like their children, but they know their way around a computer well enough to embrace online shopping and banking and, in fact, are leading the charge.

Disposable Income

With more than 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, Baby Boomers have the power to influence. Indeed, research from Mi9 found they are sufficiently wealthy to be able to spend 42% of of their income on themselves. In other words, almost half their income is disposable.

Much of this disposable income is being spent on movie and concert tickets, airline flights and hotels, which are all regularly booked online.

Indeed, according to Nielsen’s Australian Online Landscape review, 33.7 percent of the time spent by Australians online in August 2014 came from those aged over 50, while those aged 24 to 34 comprising only 19 percent.

The Nielsen report says that Australia’s 4.7 million Baby Boomers also account for 34.4 percent of the live streaming content watched in Australia, higher than for any other demographic.

Open to Technology

According to the Mi9 research, almost three quarters (72 percent) of Baby Boomers have a positive attitude towards technology, viewing it as one of the greatest changes of their lifetime and 71 percent believe it plays an important part in their lives.

They spend an average of 21 hours a week online and view over 3,000 internet pages each month.   

They are patient and curious; 31 percentare flexible to go online during the day, at any time, providing advertisers with a continuous opportunity to engage with them through the day and when they are consuming for leisure and with an open mind.
 

Laptops the Preference

While they are online, there are significant differences in online behaviour and device choice. US research has shown that Baby Boomers are much less likely than younger generations to use their smartphone to check email, or to download apps or have fun sending photos to their friends on Snapchat.

Their device of choice is the laptop computer and the tablet.

The research shows that Baby Boomers have the highest daily TV, laptop and PC usage (at 91 percent and 71 percent) of all generations, and the lowest daily smartphone and tablet usage (at 42 percent and 26 percent).

Shopping Preference

Their laptop or PC preference has a big influence on the way they shop. Baby Boomers use laptops much more frequently than smartphones and tablets to shop in all categories studied, substantially more often than younger generations.

So while young people may roll their eyes at the digital competence of their parent’s generation, their patterns of online engagement are simply very different.

Baby Boomers may not be masters of Snapchat, but as they move into retirement they are still a significant force in driving the shape of the online world.
 
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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