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In communication, we often think of the obvious if we want to reach our target group. But what is the obvious? Many times we think we know our target group and their media behavior pretty well. Do we?

What do we know about Silver Surfers?

As marketer you have probably heard about the “Silver Surfers” – Silver Surfer refers to the population of individuals over the age of 50 who utilize the internet on a consistent basis (Wiki). But how much do they use the internet, how is their online behavior and how can we approach them with our marketing and communications efforts?

My recent train ride from The Netherlands to Berlin gave me a good impression on how advanced Silver Surfers are using not only the internet but mobile applications such as Whatsapp. It was interesting and hilarious at the same time to see how these old ladies talked about their trip and how they are going to share their photos and videos (that they took with their smartphones, of course).

What we can learn from that

  1. Do not only do desktop research when analyzing your target group. Go and talk to the people you try to approach.
  2. Think of focus groups and interviews to learn about media consumption of your desired target group
  3. Double check “your” obvious as it might have changed within a short time and you did not recognize.

This happened to me just recently while taking the train from The Netherlands back to Berlin:

Four old ladies in front of me…
Granny A: “Don’t send it via Whatsapp. This fuckin train has no wifi.”
Granny B: “So I better send it via email and its delivering it later. That YouTube vid is just too funny.”
Granny A: “Yeah, or send me the link with an SMS and I look at it with my smartphone later.”
Granny C: “… my tablet also has no connection with LTE. They don’t even have mobile net here. I could get a heartattack and can’t call my daughter…”
Granny B: “Now I sent it with Whatsapp… It’s out… No really, it is… It says it’s sent.”

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The big increase in internet usage is mainly registered for the generation of the “Silver Surfer” (aged 50+). In 2013 the largest jump from offliner to onliner made the 70+ aged users: from 20,1 percent (2012) to 30,4 percent (2013). Within the age group 50-59 the internet usage increased by 6 percentage points to 82,7 percent, within the age group 60+ by 3 percentage points to 42,9 percent.


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