“Silver surfers” are claiming a bigger share of the online population at the expense of people under 25, according to (pdf) a Nielsen Online analysis of the age make-up of the UK internet population as well as the audiences of the 100 most popular brands in the UK.
Among Nielsen’s findings:
- Over the last year (Oct. ’06 – Oct. ’07), the share of the UK internet population made up by those under age 25 has decreased from 29% to 25% – a relative drop of 16%.
- During the same period, the share of 55+ year-olds has increased from 16% to 19% – a relative increase of 22%.
- Overall, the average age of the UK internet population has risen from 35.7 to 37.9 during the same period.
“When looking at how a particular audience is composed by age, a change in share – even by just a few percentage points – actually represents quite a fundamental shift. Age compositions tend to evolve subtly over a number of years, so to see such large changes in the course of just a year shows that the internet population is undergoing a significant ageing process,” said Alex Burmaster, internet analyst, Nielsen Online.
“New online offerings and technology are usually targeted at the young, but it’s possible brands could be missing a trick if they continue down this path in the future,” he added.
Brands with the youngest and oldest audiences
- Online games portal MiniClip has the youngest UK online audience, with the average age at 28.1 years. High street retailer Marks & Spencer has the oldest online audience, with the average age at 46.5 years.
- Five of the ten online brands with the youngest average age are entertainment-related, four are related to social networking.
- The five online brands with the oldest average age are all familiar high-street brands.
“Apart from age, there are two very obvious distinctions between brands with the youngest and oldest audiences,” said Burmaster.
“Firstly, young-audience brands tend to be about being entertained or making friends, whereas older-audience brands are about products and services.
“Secondly, those with the youngest audiences tend to be pure online players – only Nickelodeon and Disney have recognizable online offerings – whereas brands with the oldest audiences are dominated by those who have a real-world presence.”
* The research cited looks only at the 100 most popular online brands in the UK.
About the data: All figures cited come from NetView – the Nielsen Online panel of around 45,000 UK internet users who have opted in to download a meter that records all their PC, online and application usage on a continual and ongoing basis.