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People over age 40 participate heavily in word-of-mouth and?value personal recommendations and expert opinions, but they have not embraced social networking or blogs despite being heavy users of other online services, according to a ThirdAge/JWT Boom study.

Below, some findings from the study, which surveyed 1,800 boomers:

Social Networking, Their Own Way

Boomers want to connect and interact with others in their communities around shared interests and common issues, but they use more traditional web communications tools, such as email, to keep in touch. For example:


  • 96% use email
  • 92% Stay in touch with family/friends
  • 84% Receive photos of family/friends

Asked whether they visited any sites to connect and engage with others – i.e., social networking sites (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) – or might in the future…


  • 53% said no
  • 22% said yes
  • 26% said that they did not but might.

Among the 53% who said they had not visited such sites:

  • 47 % cited concerns over privacy and having personal information on the web
  • 39 % said they are too busy
  • 32% said they do not see the benefit of spending time social networking.

Boomers also expressed “little or no interest” in the following activities:


  • 67% Writing blogs
  • 63% Participating in general social networking
  • 62% Playing games with others
  • 55% Listening to podcasts/prerecorded audio content
  • 44% Downloading music

Embracing Online Marketing… Selectively

Boomers participate in trusted online communities and share opinions about brands. They’re also open to traditional marketing and e-marketing, as long as the message is coming from a source or brand they know and trust.

  • 75% who have received promotional emails about products and services have clicked through to the site being promoted.
  • More than 55% have purchased a product or service promoted in an email.
  • 93% of respondents who have read an article about a website in print (newspaper or magazine) have later visited the site online.

Cautious Trust of Websites

Respondents were most likely to trust a Web site’s content if the site corresponded to a trusted brand or featured credible expertise.

  • 83% reported the content needed to be attributed to experts, authors or authorities with subject-matter credibility
  • 66% said they trust sites whose content is sponsored by a company they know and trust
  • 62 % said they would trust a site if they had been going to it for a long time and came to trust its brand

Other Survey Findings:

  • Boomers participate in viral or word-of-mouth marketing as much as or more than younger age groups. 93% of respondents were very or somewhat likely to share product information or news with friends
  • 80% of respondents use a broadband connection at home.

Boomers alone account for 78 million people in the US and control more than 83% of consumer spending. Some 40% of the US population is over 45, with 50% market growth projected in the next 15 years. Boomer spending is expected to surpass $4.6 trillion by 2015.

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