Generations – 100 Ways to reach four generations

How often do young adults log on? How many people think Internet advertising is aimed at other age groups? Are Silver Surfers the biggest spenders on online travel? Adam woods finds out how the different generations interact with travel on the web



AGE 16-24


1
The current generation of 18-24-year-olds, having grown up with the Internet, have unsurprisingly embraced the medium more comprehensively than any other age group. Around 65% access the Internet at least once a month, according to Nielsen//NetRatings and Office of National Statistics data.


2
Some 32% of Internet-using 15-24-year-olds spend three or more hours online each day; 22% are online for two to three hours a day, while 26% access for one to two hours. The smallest group, 20%, are online for less than an hour a day (source: Internet Advertising Bureau UK).


3
The Internet forms a major part of children’s lives, with those with home access spending on average nearly one-and-a-half hours a day online. This rises to an average of two hours a day among 12-15-year-olds, nearly 20% of whom spend more than 20 hours a week on the web (source: Ofcom).


4
German Internet users aged between 18 and 24 are more likely than any of their European counterparts to spend three or more hours online, with 46% doing so. Italy (36%), France (27%) and Spain (26%) came next (source: IAB UK).


6
British 15-24-year-olds are more likely to agree with the above statement than their European counterparts, with 19% of Germans, 16% of French, 26% of Italians and 18% of Spanish 15-24s inclined to reply in the affirmative.


7
The 16-24s are less than half as likely as the average surfer to search for travel online, according to Target Group Index 2007 figures.


8
They are also much less likely than the average web user to buy a travel product online. Specifically, according to TGI 2007, they are 61% less likely than average to purchase flights or a holiday.


9
This age group is also by far the least likely of all adult groups to make its own travel or accommodation arrangements, to book accommodation directly or to book a flight directly with an airline (source: TGI 2007).


10
When questioned on online travel agents, 16-24s were 29% more likely than the average Internet user to have booked their last holiday with Lastminute.com, followed in order of relative likelihood by Travelocity, Expedia, Holiday Hypermarket, Ebookers and Opodo (source: TGI 2007).


11
Of the UK’s top five travel sites in July 2007, Expedia was the most-visited among 15-24s, with 1,084,000 unique visitors in total. Lastminute came second with 926,000 visitors, followed by TUI Group (890,000), British Airways (689,000) and First Choice (558,000) (source: comScore).


12
Overall, most broadband users also use the Internet for online shopping (66%) and banking (58%). Unsurprisingly, broadband users do more of everything online than dial-up users, with a particularly marked difference in high-bandwidth applications such as gaming and video downloading (source: Ofcom).


13
Instant messaging is overwhelmingly the preserve of the 15-24s, with 70% of British Internet users in that age group using such communication tools in a regular basis (source: IAB UK), compared to around 35% of Internet users aged 25+.


14
The 15-24s are also way ahead in their use of Internet telecommunications tools such as Skype, with around 33% of Internet users regularly using them, against 20% of over 25s (source: IAB UK).


15
The rate of uptake varies significantly across Europe where online communication tools are concerned. Young Spaniards are Europe’s keenest instant messengers, with 80% of 15-24-year-old Internet users doing so regularly (source: IAB UK).


16
Germany, meanwhile, has been slowest off the mark with telecommunications tools like Skype, with just over 20% of online 15-24-year-olds regularly using them. However, the Germans’ use of online chat rooms puts the rest of Europe in the shade, with 46% of 15-24-year-old Internet users visiting them regularly, compared to well under 20% of their British counterparts and only 13% of young Spaniards (source: IAB UK).


17
The 15-24 age group currently accounts for 12.5% of the EU25 population, though this is set to decline proportionately over the coming years as Europe “middle-ages” in response to falling fertility rates and increased longevity, according to the Future Foundation’s consumer insight service nVision.


18
A glimpse into the future: access to communications devices is widespread among children, with more than three quarters of 11-year-olds claiming ownership of a TV set, a games console and a mobile phone (source: Ofcom Communications Market 2007 report).


19
Overall, e-mail is the most popular use of the Internet, followed by web surfing (source: Ofcom).


20
Some 39% of 15-24-year-olds say the advertising on a website has helped them to make better purchasing decisions and 40% say ads on websites have helped them to find the products or services they were searching for (source: IAB)


21
According to a 2005 Burst Media survey, the 14-17-year-old demographic is the one most Internet users believe is the true target of most web advertising. However, 54.8% of this age group believe web advertising is chiefly focused on other age segments.


22
Young people use the Internet heavily when researching purchases, if not quite as heavily as their older counterparts. According to the IAB’s NetObserver Europe survey, 79% of 15-24-year-olds searched for information on the web before buying something in the past six months (as of December 2006), and 84% made a purchase online in that period.


23
Younger adults are less likely than the national average to plan their travel in advance. Some 25% of people aged under 24 booked their holiday a month or less before departure, compared to 18% of Internet users overall (source: Nielsen//NetRatings/Adviva/Harvest Digital).


24
The 16-24s are the only adult group in which many people believe they make or influence holiday decisions without actually paying for the holiday themselves (source: Nielsen//NetRatings/Adviva/Harvest Digital).


25
According to Forrester Research in the US, a barrier to growth in online travel sales to ‘Millennials’ – those between the ages of 18 and 26 – is the absence of payment options other than credit and debit card, though this age group is also more comfortable than any other age group when it comes to using plastic online. US Millennials would be twice as likely as other generations to use PayPal to book a holiday if the option were available, though they are three-and-a-half times below the average favourable response rate when it came to paying by cheque (source: Forrester Research).



AGE 25-34s


26
Online travel booking and research are particularly common among 25-34-year-olds, of whom 68% say they would book directly on the Internet (source: Nielsen//NetRatings/Adviva/Harvest Digital).


27
The same survey, released in December 2006, also revealed that three-quarters of people book their own holidays and that there are no significant differences in the travel-booking habits of men and women.



28
Two-thirds of online shoppers usually take two or more holidays of one week or more a year, and a quarter take three or more (source: Nielsen//NetRatings/Adviva/Harvest Digital).


29
The 25-34s are 14% more likely than average to have booked their last holiday online (source: TGI 2007).


30
The 25-34s are 4% less likely than the average Internet user to search for travel online (source: TGI 2007).


31
However, they are 15% more likely than the average web user to buy flights or a holiday online. (source: TGI 2007)


32
This age group is also the most likely of all adult groups to book a flight directly with an airline, rating as 16% more likely than the average Internet user to do so (source: TGI 2007).


33
When questioned on online travel agents, 25-34s were 73% more likely than the average Internet user to have booked their last holiday with Opodo, followed in order of relative likelihood by Lastminute.com, Holiday Hypermarket, Opodo, Expedia and Ebookers (source: TGI 2007).


34
Of the UK’s top five travel sites in July 2007, Expedia was the most visited among 25-34s, with 1,249,000 unique visitors in total. Lastminute.com came second with 1,060,000 visitors, followed by TUI Group (905,000), British Airways (820,000) and First Choice (603,000) (source: comScore).


35
The 25-34-year-olds are the only age group that broadly believes that Internet advertising is aimed at them. Some 46.4% believe it is, against 33.9% who feel it is aimed at someone else (source: Burst Media).


36
Women in the 18-34 age range are the most active Internet users when judged by the amount of time they spend online. As a whole, 18-34s spent 253 million hours on the Internet in April 2007, or more than a third of all time spent online, with a female-to-male ratio of around 52:48.


37
In descending order, the next most prolific surfers were 35-49s (204 million hours), 50-64s (161 million hours), two-17s (76 million hours) and 65+ (64 million hours) (source: Nielsen//NetRatings).


38
Among those aged 25-34, the gender gap widens, with women spending more than 20% more time online than their male counterparts (source: Nielsen//NetRatings).



39
Some 20% of British Internet-using over-25s spend three or more hours online each day; 19% are online for two to three hours a day; 30% access for one to two hours, and the remaining 31% are online for less than an hour each day (source: IAB UK).



40
Where younger generations are concerned, the feminisation of the Internet is a Europe-wide trend. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s NetObserver Europe survey, conducted by Novatris/Harris Interactive, within 15-24-year-old age group, females typically either punch their weight with males (as in Italy and Spain) or are in a majority (UK, Germany and France).


41
Total Internet use skews 55:45 in favour of men, with the 18-34-year-old age group the only one to buck the trend (source: Nielsen//NetRatings).


42
Just as is the case with the younger generation, German Internet users over the age of 25 are more likely than any of their European counterparts to spend three or more hours online, with 37% glued to their screens for at least that long every day. Italy (26%), Spain (21%) and France (18%) followed (source: IAB UK).


43
The over-25s are the heaviest users of the Internet when it comes to researching purchases, as we might expect given that they have a far larger share of disposable income than younger counterparts. According to the IAB’s NetObserver Europe survey, 84% of Internet users aged 25+ searched for information on the web before buying in the past six months (as of December 2006).


44
Also, according NetObserver Europe, 86% of the over 25s Internet users made a purchase online during the second half of last year.


45
The British lead Europe in this regard, with 74% of German Internet-using 25-and-overs using the web for shopping research and 79% buying something, 73%/62% of French, 76%/60% of Italians and 80%/61% of Spaniards (source: IAB UK).


46
Those under 34 are significantly more comfortable making payments online than those in other groups. According to the Payment Preferences Online: Managing the Generation Gap Between Mature and Young Adults study from JupiterResearch in the US, 48% of US consumers aged between 25 and 34 prefer to use debit cards for Internet transactions, compared to only 39% of all online consumers.


47
The 25-34-year-olds are highly active online, but not in every sphere. They represent, for instance, the smallest measured segment of Facebook users, accounting for 11.7% of US visitors to the site in May 2007, against 29.4% who were 18-24 and, surprisingly, 39.1% who were over-35 (source: comScore).


48
Around 27% of consumers aged 25-34 would be willing to respond to a mobile ad in exchange for free content, though the vast proportion have never done so to date. This was compared to 40% of 18-24-year-olds who said they would be persuaded to engage with mobile advertising in return for content (source: eMarketer).


49
The 25-34s are the least enthusiastic downloaders of podcasts in the US, accounting for just 14% of the iTunes total. Over-35s account for more than 50%, while 18-24s accounted for 27%. According to comScore research, the likelihood of a person listening to a podcast increases with the level of both income and education.


50
This age group also shows the greatest dependency on e-mail. According to research commissioned by software firm Nasstar, 50% of British 25-to-34-year-olds said they wouldn’t be able to live without e-mail and 44% of 35-to-44-year-olds said the same, compared to 41% of teenagers. Those living in the southeast of England are the most reliant and those in Wales are the least.



AGE 35-54s


51
According to Lastminute.com research, the average online travel consumer is now to be found squarely in the middle of the adult age group. Aged a few months short of 40, this consumer’s average salary is £39,348, of which £2,390 goes on travel each year.  Also, according to Lastminute.com, 62% of all British online travel consumers are ABC1s and 89% have broadband access.


53
Illicit web surfing at work is a well-known fact: a US study last year found that a 65% of men and 58% of women admit to accessing online material that isn’t work-related during work hours (source: Websense). The phenomenon extends to transactional behavior as well. According to EyeforTravel, 37% of professionals who book their holiday online do so from the office.


53
Some 93% of professionals between the ages of 21 and 54 – defined by EyeforTravel as ‘young professionals’ – used the Internet to research their most recent trip (source: EyeforTravel). In fact, 73% of them conducted their entire buying cycle, from research to booking, entirely online


54
More commonly, however, travel-booking tends to take place outside the office, with 63% of professionals who book their holiday online doing so from their home-based computer (source: EyeforTravel).


55
Only 7% of Internet users research and buy their holidays from high-street travel agents and just 1% book through Teletext (source: Nielsen//NetRatings/Adviva/Harvest Digital).


56
Some 9% of Internet users book their holidays on the high street after carrying out research online. A further 17% research holidays online, then book over the telephone (source: Nielsen//NetRatings/Adviva/Harvest Digital).


57
Some 26% say they have booked travel as the result of a promotional e-mail, 41% subscribe to an online newsletter offering travel promotions and 24% are members of a loyalty programme (source: EyeforTravel).


58
Airline tickets are the most popular product for professionals booking online, accounting for 33% of transactions. Next come hotels (25%), rental cars (9%),  and holiday activities (8%) (source: EyeforTravel).


59
The 35-54s are 16% more likely than the average Internet user to search for travel online, and are the second most likely age group to do so, after the over-55s (source: GB TGI 2007).


60
However, they are 15% more likely than the average web user to buy flights or a holiday online. (source: GB TGI 2007).


61
This age group is also the most likely of all adult groups to book a flight directly with an airline, rating as 16% more likely than the average Internet user to do so (source: TGI 2007).


62
The 35-54s are 7% more likely than the average Internet user to have booked their last holiday online (source: TGI 2007).


63
When questioned on online travel agents, 35-54s were 28% more likely than the average Internet user to have booked their last holiday with Opodo, followed in order of relative likelihood by Ebookers, Holiday Hypermarket, Lastminute.com, Expedia and Travelocity (source: TGI 2007).


64
For long-haul destinations, Google is more popular still, taking 68% of initial search volumes, compared to 15% for OTAs, 11% for supplier websites. Just 4.5% of people walk into a high-street travel agent to commence their search and only 1% pick up the phone (source: EyeforTravel).


65
The hallowed status of search marketing in the travel sector appears to be justified. Google is the first point of call for professionals searching for travel options online, with 60% of online research beginning at the search engine’s home page, according to EyeforTravel. Alternative search engines have comparatively very low penetration, with Yahoo!, AOL, MSN and Ask collectively kick-starting only 2.5% of travel research strategies.


66
Some 12% went direct to the websites of airlines, hotels and other suppliers to research any given trip, suggesting that brand-building efforts online have borne fruit. OTAs, meanwhile took 14% of initial search volumes and traditional high-street travel agents only 2% (source: EyeforTravel).


67
Of the UK’s top five travel sites in July 2007, Expedia was the most-visited among 35-54s, with 3,070,000 unique visitors in total. TUI Group came second with 2,517,000 visitors, followed by Lastminute (2,388,000), British Airways (1,824,000) and First Choice (1,770,000) (source: comScore).


68
On the subject of average consumers, the UK traveller is “the most digital EU traveller”, in the words of EyeforTravel, accounting for a forecast 34% of the EU online travel market in 2007. The British share has shrunk from 40% in five years as travellers from Eastern Europe move into the market, and France and southern Europe close the gap with the UK in terms of technology penetration.


69
According to a 2006 Burst Media report, destination information is the content that most makes Internet users want to return to a travel site, with 63% of respondents naming it as key.


70
Following on were the ability to check flight, hotel, and car-rental rates and availability (60%), travel promotions and specials (54%), travel bulletins and alerts (24%), chat/forum areas covering destinations (14%), the ability to personalise pages (14%), and an opt-in newsletter (10%).


71
Across all age groups, according to Ofcom research, e-mail is the most popular use of the Internet, followed by web surfing, although the majority of broadband users also use the Internet for online shopping (66%) and banking (58%). Broadband users do more of everything than narrowband users, with a particularly marked difference in high bandwidth applications such as gaming and video downloading.


72
Three out of five (62%) 45-54-year-olds believe online advertising is focused on people younger than them (source: Burst Media).


73
Some 3% of British 35-54-year-olds created or updated a social networking profile during the second half of 2006, compared to 9% of 16-34-year-olds (source: nVision).


74
Some 26% of those aged between 35 and 44 would be willing to respond to a mobile ad in exchange for free content, with text-based ads more likely to elicit a response than other kinds of advertisements (source: eMarketer).


75
The 35-54s account for 30% of the total population of Great Britain and make up 36% of all adults, but they are too easily categorised as a purely family-orientated age group. In fact, just over half of all 35-54s have children, though 48% do not (source: ONS).



OVER-55s


76
Older people spend more on travel online than any other age segment, according to Lastminute.com research.


77
Across all categories, British over-60s spend €205 billion a year, accounting for 40% of all spending power, while the larger group of over-50s holds 80% of the UK’s personal wealth (source: The Millennium Group) and spend £205 billion per year


78
Over-55s are also the Internet’s key growth group, increasing their use of the web by 40% in the year to May 2007, while proven heavy surfers such as 35-55-year-olds remained static in their usage (source: Hitwise).


79
Technically, Internet penetration falls with age, with just 16% of over-65s using the web. However, so-called Silver Surfers, once connected, spend on average almost 42 hours online every month – more than any other age group (source:Ofcom).


80
More broadly, over-50s are steadily challenging the assumption that the Internet is a young person’s technology. In fact, the over-50s now account for more than 25% of all Britons online and 30% of all the time we spend on the Internet is notched up by people in their 50s and above (source:Ofcom).


81
Across Europe, one in four of all over-55s log on to the Internet in a typical week and weekend use is increasing at a rate of 19% year-on-year. Meanwhile, 68% of all European Internet users aged 55 years and over now use broadband as their main point of web connection (source: EIAA).


82
Nearly three-quarters (72%) of web users aged 55 and above believe online advertising is aimed at someone younger than them (source: Burst Media).


83
Among older generations, the web audience remains resolutely male-dominated. Among over-65s, 79% of Internet use is accounted for by men, while among 50-64s, that figure is 59% (source: Nielsen//NetRatings). Overall, 55% of Internet use is attributable to men.


84
In common with under-24s, over-55s are fond of booking holidays at the last minute. 28% of them booked to go away a month before departure or later (source: Nielsen//NetRatings/Adviva/Harvest Digital).


85
The 55+ generation is responsible for 48% of Internet searches for cruises (source: Hitwise).


86
Of all visits to travel websites in May 2007, 27% were made by more mature surfers, who also left all other age groups behind for their interest in family, stocks and shares, e-greetings and yachting (source: Hitwise).


87
Some 60% of European over-55s with Internet access visit travel sites and 55% visit holiday sites, compared to the 53% who use online banking and finance sites (source: EIAA).


88
Over-55s are 19% more likely than the average Internet user to search for travel online, making them the age group most inclined to do so (source: TGI 2007).


89
However, they typically shop more than they buy Р they are 1% less likely than the average web user to buy flights or a holiday online (source: TGI 2007).


90
This age group is also the most likely of all adult groups to book a flight directly with an airline, rating as 16% more likely than the average Internet user to do so (source: TGI 2007).


91
Over-55s are 12% less likely than average to have booked their last holiday online (source: TGI 2007).


92
When questioned on online travel agents, over-55s were 8% more likely than the average Internet user to have booked their last holiday with Ebookers, though they were less likely than average to book with Holiday Hypermarket, Lastminute.com, Expedia or Travelocity (source: TGI 2007).


93
Wealthier older people are more active online than their less well-off counterparts, according to Hitwise. High net-worth Mosaic groups Symbols of Success and Urban Intelligence, both of which are most likely to earn a household income of more than Euro 50,000, are over-represented online by a factor of 22% and 31% respectively.


94
Search engines (80%), e-mail (85%) and news (63%) are the only three categories more popular than travel among the European 55+ online age group (source: EIAA).


95
Travel and holidays are the number-one online purchase for wired over-55s in Europe, with 47% of them having bought tickets to travel and 32% having splashed out on a holiday via the web (source: EIAA).


96
Of the UK’s top five travel sites in July 2007, Expedia was the most visited among over-55s, with 1,237,000 unique visitors in total. TUI Group came second with 1,019,000 visitors, followed by Lastminute.com (797,000), British Airways (679,000) and First Choice (660,000) (source: comScore).


97
Mosaic groups Twilight Subsistence and Municipal Dependency, which are among the most likely to have a household income of less than €7,499, are 37% and 34% under-represented online (source: Hitwise).


98
However, there is substantial movement at both income levels. Twilight Subsistence and Grey Perspectives (pensioners enjoying retirement with savings to supplement their pensions) both increased their online footprint in the two years to May 2007. Internet visits from Twilight Subsistence were up 29% over the period and visits from Grey Perspectives increased by 30% (source: Hitwise).


99
Overall, the older demographic is dramatically in the ascendant. Between 1971 and 2006, the UK population aged over 65 grew by 31%, from 7.4 million to 9.7 million, while the population aged under 16 declined by 19%, from 14.2 million to 11.5 million (source: Office of National Statistics).


100
By 2020, the number of 20 to 29-year-olds in the UK will have decreased by 20%, and during the same period, the number of 50-64-year-olds is expected to increase by 26%. It is expected that by 2030 one in three people will be over 60 (source: The British Council).

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