Silver Surfer uses iPhone

The Unstoppable Rise of Silver Surfer

New research suggests a breath-taking boom among older people (known as Silver Surfers) joining the digital revolution

The number of pensioners embracing social media is surging, the research has found, with Skype, Facebook and Instagram becoming vital tools to keep the elderly connected.

People aged 75 years and older are showing the steepest rise in usage, according to the study by Griffith University in Australia.

“We are seeing something like a quadrupling of people using technology in recent years,” said Griffith University socio-technology expert Doctor David Tuffley.

“Nowadays there’s something like 75 per cent of people in that demographic using technology almost every day.”

Why is the revolution happening?

The reasons behind this grey-powered revolution are not a million miles away from why the rest of us are so reliant on social media – keeping in touch with family and friends, diarising our lives and staying abreast of what is happening in the world.

It’s a no brainer for the Silver Surfer. No more expensive phone-calls to family on the other side of the world – today they’re just a Skype call away or a quick click on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with their latest adventures.

In terms of marketing, the grey power digital revolution presents a huge new opportunity for brands. They’re online, and they’re actively embracing the many benefits of the digital environment.

Which means they trust this brave new world. And everyone knows that trust means one thing above all others in marketing terms – spend.

In 2014, the Office of National Statistics was still reporting that almost five million older people in the UK had still never used the internet, despite the fact that 76 per cent of the population claimed to go online every day.

But this new boom in pensioners using social media is changing that, and changing it at a breathless pace.

Add to this the fact the silver surfer has recently enjoyed a growth in disposable income, with the average retired household having between £18,000 and £19,000 disposable income a year to spend, according to finance experts.

What does this mean for brands?

Any brand or company which invests in helping or adding to pensioners’ online experience can generate brand loyalty and new custom from this growing market.

Even more important is that they’re also embracing the new mobile world – estimates say that 50% of these Silver Surfers actually prefer to use smartphones or tablets to use their favourite social media sites as well as for access to news aggregating sites, email and online banking.

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