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Online Lifestyles of the Matures

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At this point in the Internet age, the chief constraint on Web usage is lack of time, not lack of access. So, who has lots of free time? Two cohorts stand out: 20somethings (who have yet to have kids or take serious jobs) and old folks (who've rid themselves of their kids and tend to be retired or semi-retired).

Online marketers fall all over the 20somethings but are oddly indifferent to the older group. A report by Focalyst and Dynamic Logic (both Millward Brown companies) looks at the nearly 17 million Americans age 62-plus who use the Internet. It emphasizes that they aren't just exchanging photos of their grandchildren. Among their online activities: 59 percent use search engines, 59 percent keep in touch with family and friends, 47 percent gather information, 43 percent follow news/current events/weather, 41 percent do travel planning and make reservations and 38 percent seek health-related information. Thirty-three percent exchange photos with family and friends. One other telltale sign that Matures have online time on their hands: 21 percent use the Internet for single- or multiple-player games.

As you'd expect, online Matures are especially attentive to pharmaceutical ads. But the report says they are also more likely than younger consumers to be swayed by online ads for travel and entertainment.