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65pc of empty nesters use smartphones to seek product info: report

Boomers

Older consumers have adopted some of the digital shopping habits of their tech-savvy counterparts from younger generations, although there are some key differences, according to a new research report. 

The report from Influence Central and Vibrant Nation found that 82 percent of women age 45 and older with no children at home spend more time shopping online than they do in stores, and 65 percent use their smartphones to research product information. In addition, 72 percent use their smartphones to visit social media sites. 

“We found that this is a generation that will Google you, and nine out of 10 empty nesters consider themselves ‘texters,’” said Stacy DeBroff, Influence Central CEO. “Media portrays this generation as the least tech-savvy, but in reality they are constantly online and prefer to communicate via tech.” 

Boston-based Influence Central teamed up with Vibrant Nation, an online community for women age 45 and older, to field the research study of more than 600 American women without children living at home. Influence Central, parent of Mom Central Consulting, works with marketers and their agencies on social media and digital campaigns to target specific consumer sectors using online influencers. 

Social media users
The report found that these empty nester women were active consumers of information via social media, even if they do not contribute as much content as younger consumers. Nearly 90 percent have a Facebook account, ad 60 percent use Twitter. 

“Though this generation does not yet create a lot of content, they do consume large amounts of information online,” Ms. DeBroff said. “And they are highly engaged joiners, purveyors, and conversationalists.” 

As a generation with more financial stability and access to disposable income, marketers should take notice of the way these older consumers use social media, she said. 

“Brands should pay attention to the flow of empty nesters online, as their ongoing conversations impact spending habits,” Ms. DeBroff said. 

The report also found that these older consumers are avid users of text messaging. Nine out of 10 empty nesters said they communicate via text messaging, and 36 percent said they prefer texting over talking on the phone. 

The results of the survey further illustrate the growing adoption of mobile among consumers of all age groups.

A report in April from consumer research group Nielsen found that as of the first quarter, a majority of U.S. mobile subscribers in all age groups owned smartphones. Among mobile subscribers age 55 and older, 51 percent now own smartphones, up 10 percent over the preceding year. 

Online research
The Influence Central report found that empty nesters actively research products online, with 90 percent researching items online via search engines like Google before making a purchase. 

They also appear to trust online product reviews, with nearly 80 percent saying they are more likely to purchase a product if it receives a high rating in a retail e-commerce review. In addition, 45 percent of survey respondents said they would be more likely to purchase a product if it is recommended by a blogger they follow. 

The empty nesters surveyed also said they are skeptical of traditional advertising, with just 12 percent saying they are more likely to purchase a product when used in a compelling commercial ad. 

“To connect with empty nesters, marketers need to adjust their strategies to reach this generation online, rather than using traditional approaches,” Ms. DeBroff said. 

Final Take 
Mark Hamstra is content director on Mobile Marketer, New York

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Related content: Research, empty nesters, baby boomers, Influence Central, Vibrant Nation

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