Boomers are an interesting lot – and there’s a hell of a lot of them. A good combination for employers, marketers, politicians, and web 2.0 startup companies looking to build vast piles of money from them, win their favor, or harness their expertise in the work place. There’s a post from yesterday on the New York Times titled “New Social Sites Cater to People of a Certain Age” and it’s a good read for anyone wanting to get a 50,000 foot view of newer social sites like eons, and multiply.
“…there are 78 million boomers â€” roughly three times the number of teenagers â€” and most of them are Internet users who learned computer skills in the workplace. Indeed, the number of Internet users who are older than 55 is roughly the same as those who are aged 18 to 34, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, a market research firm.” – sourced NYT
So what’s going on with online social networking tools in this crown jewel of market segments? In a word – lots.
â€œThe older demographic has a bunch of interesting characteristics,â€ Mr. Kedrosky added, â€œnot the least of which is that they hang around.â€ – Paul Kedrosky, a venture capitalist and author of the blog Infectious Greed
Said another way, online Boomers don’t suffer from shiny object syndrome (ohhhh, that’s pretty, let’s try that!) like younger generations are famous for. Even as an entrenched Gen X’er at 38 I no longer look at a BMW without having the accompanying thought that you give up a lot of hard earned cash (see: freedom) to drive around in a pretty car. I sure as hell didn’t do that when I was in my 20’s.Â Web companies, employers, investors and venture capitalists are all seeing the direct benefits of catering to Boomers and for good reason.
There’s anecdotal evidence now with early web companies in the space that their instincts on Boomer’s stickiness is well founded.
“Peter Pezaris, president and chief executive of Multiply.com Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., said he believed that older customers were stickier than younger ones, but said the evidence so far was anecdotal. He said 96 percent of the companyâ€™s active users returned each month, a statistic that he said impressed the venture capitalists who considered investing in the site.” – Peter Pezaris CEO Multiply
In the job search engine space we have the boomer focused RetirementJobs.com, a niche Boomer version of CareerBuilder or Monster.Â RetirementJobs.com published some interesting research last year that corroborates some of the news featured in the New York Times piece.
“RetirementJobs.com research shows that on top of experience, workers over 50 stay in jobs longer, waste less time at work, and relate better to companiesâ€™ older customer base. Employers are increasingly luring 50+ workers given that half the U.S. workforce of 130 million people is scheduled to retire, or take a retirement job, in the next 15 years.”
RetirementJobs.com polled their users and pulled out some interesting charactertistics.
Right at the top is flexibility and lifestyle integration. Freedom.Â From looking at these numbers you’d have to conclude that Boomers no longer agree with their youthful battlecry so perfectly echoed in Kris Kristofferson’s Me and Bobby McGee – “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
Like any other generation Boomers have their own unique needs and desires and they need their own kind of pad to hang out in online. I believe that the only thing holding them back from being just as addicted to social networking sites as our younger generations is a relevant hang out. Get relevant and people will get connected.
[tags]Boomers, Baby Boomers[/tags]