By Peter Zeuschner, National Sales Director, Digital Advertising, AARP Media Solutions
Adults 70+ are officially online and active in a way we’ve never before seen. Their digital habits and the way they interact with media are virtually unrecognizable from their pre-pandemic behaviors, ushering in a 61% spike in internet use.
This demo has condensed the adoption of all things digital — something that took previous generations years and even decades to fully embrace — into just 18 months.
Major elements of the 70+ advertising formula have changed and marketers need to quickly get up to speed on the seismic shifts that took place during the pandemic and update their strategies accordingly.
The Pandemic Drove a Massive Shift in 70+ Online Behaviors
They say necessity is the mother of invention and that’s exactly what happened during the pandemic. During that time, 70+ were homebound, even more than almost any other demo. They couldn’t make their usual trips to the post office, the bank, the pharmacy or the grocery store, so they adopted new technology out of necessity.
And, in the process, they learned to trust and value the full range of activities and tools that are available from the convenience of their smartphone, tablet or laptop.
70+ are Online — and They’re Here to Stay
Fast forward to today and 70+ consumers are researching purchases and shopping online. Monthly mobile search engine use among them is up to 73%, compared to 29% pre-pandemic. 70+ adults are sending e-cards and Venmo’ing grandkids for their birthdays; they’re paying bills online, browsing recipes on their phones and watching movies on their tablets.
The change in pre-pandemic figures, according to MRI-Simmons, compared to today’s monthly internet activities amongst 70+ adults are staggering:
- Online purchases are up 116%.
- Instant messaging is up 110%.
- Online bill paying is up 100%.
- Searching for recipes is up 96%.
- Tracking investments is up 82%.
- Watching movies online is up 78%.
Breaking Down What it Means for Marketers
70+ consumers are an economic powerhouse. They spend a total of $1.1 trillion annually on consumer goods and services — and make up 25%+ of all spending amongst adults 50+, according to the U.S. Consumer Expenditures Survey. They have a sizable annual household income and the highest net worth of all age groups, according to MRI-Simmons.
The dramatic shift in this demo’s digital behaviors has big implications for marketers who can now talk to the wealthiest segment of the U.S. in a way that was never before available. No longer hesitant to make a purchase online, 70+ adults now trust digital services. Their credit card is saved to Amazon and Instacart; they’ve set up Venmo or PayPal and they’re making online transactions with ease.
As a result, they’re reacting to ads differently. When they see a print ad, instead of calling the number listed like they’ve historically done, 70+ are picking up their phones and/or going on their computers to research the product online. 70+ consumers are interacting with digital ads during this process and that is exactly where marketers need to meet them.
If advertisers aren’t talking to 70+ during this new step of their consumer experience, they risk missing out on this affluent and influential audience altogether. Once they’re in the right place, marketers’ tactics and message are the same: Speak to 70+ consumers directly; provide value and demonstrate that you understand their interests.
The Bottom Line
70+ adults’ rapid digital adoption is one of the most profound technological changes this country has ever seen. We’re entering new territory in marketing and advertising, where, for the first time, brands can reach a game-changing demo online and in a big way.