Marketing gurus tell as all the time that we need to really focus on our market; they say that “niche” marketing is even more important these days than ever before. Online, people expect to be able to find products and services that are directly targeted at them.
Strange then, that a recent study of Internet users reveals that the majority of those aged over 55 feel that the content available online is mostly targeted at young people. Indeed, the study shows us that not only do these “oldies” feel that the content is wrong, but they also dislike much of the design of web sites because they are generally too youthful.
What’s wrong with that, you might think. Well, several things. For a start, statistics collated by Pew Internet, the leading research company on human-Internet experiences, shows us that seven out of ten people over the age of 50 use the Internet. For those aged younger than this, there are eight out of ten regular users. In other words, the proportion of “oldies” using the Internet is roughly the same as the youngsters.
This implies that most Internet marketers are missing a trick. Older people are clearly feeling “left out” by many web sites. That means lower sales for online businesses and the possibility that competitors will see this market gap and proceed to fill it.
Internet marketers miss a trick
There’s another problem for Internet marketers; the world’s population is ageing. According to a United Nations report on ageing, the numbers of people aged over 50 is set to double between now and 2050. In other words, for anyone running an online business this is a growing market.
So just imagine, for a moment, that you run a record company. Typically youthful in approach, your web site is bound to be young looking and targeted at young people. That puts off the over 50s, it seems from the recent study. But guess what; the over 50s are happy to pay for music – the younger population expects it for free. If the music industry targeted their web sites to older people, they’d probably make more money online.
The research showing that older people are disenfranchised by the lack of content and design targeted at them should be a wake-up call to online businesses that they need to focus and target much more than they are doing. To dismiss the “older” Internet users could be financial ruin for many businesses. Perhaps it is time to look at your online business and see if it needs re-shaping towards the older Internet user. We focus on youth too much online.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+