Baby Boomers' consumption of media has shifted dramatically to the Internet: 62% of Boomers (age 45-63) spent more time on the Internet in 2009 than they did the year before, and the majority of Boomers had joined Facebook within the previous six months, according to survey conducted by CPH Research on behalf of Continuum Crew.

Below, other findings from Continuum Crew's 2009 Economic Impact Study.

Higher Overall Anxiety Among Boomers

Boomers report more stressful lives overall: 77% say they are very or somewhat nervous or anxious, compared with 68% who said so last year.

Anxiety has shifted from the collapse of the economy to the cost of healthcare: 49% of Boomers cite the cost of healthcare as their primary concern, compared with last year when 46% cited the economy as the issue they were "very nervous" about.

The current political situation is also an issue for many: 42% of Boomers say they are concerned about the current political leadership in the US, compared with 34% who said so last year.

In the past three years, 40% of Gen Jones (the younger segment of Boomers, age 45-54) say they have experienced a major change in their financial situation: Nearly one-quarter (24%) have lost a job, and 15% have had an adult child move back home with them.

Gap in Print Media Consumption Among Boomers

Older Americans, or Ikes (age 64-75), and Leading-edge Boomers (age 55-63) still use traditional media more than Gen Jones (age 45-54) or Gen X (age 35-44) consumers, and not all Boomers consume media in the same way–– the biggest gap being between older and younger Boomers.

The trend is most striking within traditional print media, with high consumption by older Boomers of newspapers and magazines: 50% of Leading-edge Boomers rely on local newspapers, compared with 38% of Gen Jones consumers.

Meanwhile, 58% of Leading-edge Boomers read print magazines, compared with 46% of Gen Jones consumers.

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Among media services, only 4.5% of Boomers and Gen Jones consumers say they are willing to give up the Internet. By comparison, other media services they would be willing to forfeit include the following:

  • DVD movie rental: 61.1%
  • Home telephone (landline): 40.6%
  • Online news services or newsletters: 37.8%
  • National newspapers: 36.4%
  • Magazines: 33.7%

Boomers spend more time online than ever: 62% of Boomers (age 55-63) and Gen Jones consumers (age 45-54) say they spent more time online in 2009 than ever before, compared with 38% who said so last year.

Boomers are catching up with Gen X consumers (age 35-44) on social networking: 62% of all Boomers (age 45-63) say they joined Facebook within the previous six months.

Meanwhile, 64% of Ikes (age 64-75) also say they joined Facebook in the previous six months.
With such active Facebook adoption, 39% of Ikes and Boomers now maintain a Facebook page, slightly below the adoption levels of Gen Jones (43%) and Gen X consumers (50%).

The Social Media Maven

Regarding levels of social media involvement among consumers age 35+, clear profiles emerged among the survey participants, based on levels of (1) interpersonal contact*( in-person or not) and (2) recommendation of products or services to those in their personal or social network.  Three segment profiles emerged:

  1. Isolated Insulars: Consumers with 0-4 social contacts a day, who recommend products/services less than twice a year
  2. Everyday People: 5-20 social contacts a day, recommend 3-10 times a year
  3. Social Mavens: 20+ social contacts a day, recommend more than 10 times a year

Social Media Mavens are heavily connected socially, exploring and expanding their networks, with more frequent contact with individuals across all types of groups within their social network—not just family or neighbors, but issue-oriented groups and coworkers as well.

Nearly one in seven (14.2%) of Boomers are Social Mavens.

Social Media Mavens are more likely to try new products, technologies, and seek new experiences. They are recommenders who embrace the role of technology in their connected lives:

  • 78% say technology plays an important role in their life.
  • 73% say people come to them for advice.
  • 44% says they try new products before other people they know about them.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Social Mavens are Gen Jones (age 45-54) consumers and 62% work full- or part-time. They are more likely than the other segments to own their own business (22%), and 43% have an annual income of $100K+.

In addition to face-to-face contact with others, Social Media Mavens are more likely to use some social media: 58% have a Facebook profile, 20% use MySpace, 16% use LinkedIn, and 16% use Twitter.

*To better understand social media involvement, consumers were asked to identify how many people on average they have contact with in a typical day, including all those to whom they say hello, talk to, or discuss matters with, whether face-to-face, by phone, or online. Consumers were also asked how often they recommend products or services to those in their personal or social network.

About the data: The survey was conducted by CPH Research on behalf of Continuum Crew using a sample of 700 US respondents, drawn from the Greenfield Online Panel and weighted to represent the population of the 35+ age groups, and balanced with equal male and female respondents.

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Boomers' Media Habits Shift Online, Turn Social

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