The over 50s now account for a quarter of the UK’s total Internet users and have emerged as the fastest-growing age group in the country.
Research by specialist marketing company Millennium also revealed that almost 15% of web users are aged over 70.
Another study by Millennium has found that a third of over 50s are online and well over half are regular online shoppers, with almost nine out of 10 owning a computer with its own dedicated Internet connection.
The study will add further calls for existing travel companies to overhaul their marketing strategies now that the UK’s biggest buying group have made the move online.
Millennium managing director Fiona Hought said: “The growth of the mature market as worldwide web users is one of the most important shifts of recent years.
“They have bucked the stereotypical technophobe image and are snatching the web from the younger generation to emerge as a force to be reckoned with.”
Millennium has worked with travel firms such as DFDS Seaways, Saga, Holiday-rentals.com, WA Shearings and One Step Holidays.
The influx of a new generation is likely to create a new set of challenges to companies that have traditionally not targeted the so-called silver surfers.
Research has revealed that the over 50s are “suspicious” of sponsored links and do not consider traditional web advertising as being aimed specifically at the over-50s age group.
“Mature eyes see things differently,” Hought said. “Brash flashing or even animation can be a major turn-off.
“Choice of colour, sound and, of course, font size can make a big difference too.”
Millennium has blamed a lack of understanding by some web companies on the fact that research revealed only 10% of marketing directors are over 50 and only one in five of advertising staff is under the age of 40.
Meanwhile, pensioners’ leisure portal Laterlife.com is to launch an exclusive members-only section to provide holiday deals to users.
Director Tony Clack said the new section will enable companies to advertise special offers to subscribers, adding: “They won’t all be travel, but we hope that travel will be a big part.”