5 reasons why your company should be afraid of old people

old-manNielsen Online has just released a report on the growth of Social Media. Globally, it is expanding significantly in countries like Germany and the UK, though not much in the US, but that figure may be affected by its already high level of penetration.

And while the fastest growing group of influencers in Consumer Generated Media on a worldwide scale is the 35-49 year old demographic, I was surprised to learn that’s not the case in the US. The fastest growing group is the 50-64 year old demo. Again, this is a figure that may be affected by a saturated market, but it warrants some attention – and here’s why.

1. Older people have larger networks. This goes without saying. The older you are, the more time you’ve had to build up established friendships, family and business relationships. Within these relationships they wield influence.
2. Older people know more. If you look at general knowledge, older people tend to devote more time to reading and watching the news. And, by virtue of their length of time living, they’ve had longer to learn more through their experiences.
3. Older people have more time on their hands. Younger demographics are building their careers, searching for mates, and raising children. People in the 50-64 year old demographic are moving towards retirement or working part time, they’re married and, more than likely, empty nesters.
4. There’s more of them out there than anyone else. The 50-54 year old group represents the front end of the baby boomer curve in population.

So how does any of this matter?

If this demographic is the highest growth group in Consumer Generated Media, they’re going to bring a wave of sophisticated opinion to the masses. They can generate a good deal of influence due to their knowledge, large networks and ability to spend more time and effort spreading their opinions. Brands that do a great job of building advocacy with these groups will reap the benefits of viral word of mouth that goes well beyond the traditional dinner party. However, those brands that do not will suffer from a growing number of dissenting opinions, from a group which wields a good deal of influence. Which brings me to the biggest reason why it’s vital to get this people on side.

5. This group is set to inherit the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the world. 75% of the world’s wealth is controlled by people over the age of 65 years, and most of it will go to this group.

How is your company doing with this group? Read my article about 2 things every company should do before getting into social media.

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