50+ surfers ride the new wave

In many a pitch, many a presentation, I've stood up and said "Online is bound to grow in our region (as in the Middle East) because more than 50% of our population is under 25. The youth naturally take up new media, new technology and new trends". Well folks, I was half wrong. Because, the latest numbers coming out, at least in the UK, show that online growth is being fuelled by the 50+.

Online audiences in the UK have grown by 5% over the past year, fuelled by increasing take-up by the over 50s, according to new research. The report shows: Almost two million more Britons are online than last year. Figures have swelled from 36.9 million in May 2009 to 38.8 million in May 2010, research by UKOM reveals. Those aged 50+ now account for 31% of total people online.

Men over 50 were responsible for most of this growth, accounting for 722,000 and 38% of new internet users followed by women who accounted for 284,000 and 15% of new users.

Health, video and community are the leading interest areas, and we find that quite natural. Alex Burmaster, analyst at UKOM/Nielsen, said: "The fact that one in four Britons who use the Internet today are 50- to 64-years-old proves it is no longer the sole preserve of the young and technical literati.

This really is a game changer as far as our online strategy goes in several genres. Take travel for instance. Here's a generation that probably has disposable time and money to go around the world and see the 200 places on their bucket list. Here's a generation that's ripe for online pharmacies. For insurance. Cards. Banking. Buying new cars. Upgrading. And, of course, for technology, hardware and software. Do Co Mo in Japan have figured this out quickly (Japan has the world's oldest population, I'm told). So, Do Co Mo are enabling (for free), photo sharing technology for the elderly via their photoframes. But that's another story, another post.

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