Online Categories Achieving Generational Parity

People don’t often think about how frequent they go online.  For most persons, it has become an integrated, necessary part of everyday life.  Today, 84% of adults access the internet monthly and while there is still a slightly younger age skew, we are drawing nearer to the time when there will be little difference among generations for certain online habits and activities.  Except for the Greatest Generation (70+), which still has significantly lower online usage across all categories, we are seeing many online groups achieving generational parity, meaning they have similar engagement across the Millennial, Generation X and Boomers’ age cohorts.


One of the first online categories explored in reaching generational parity is use of the internet to obtain medical services or information.  On a monthly basis, 16% of all adults use the internet to access medical information, with Millennials, Boomers, and Generation X closely mirroring the average.  To narrow the gap between generations, marketers may want to pursue expansion of information and apps focused on areas such as Medicare and/or treatments for conditions that are more common with older adults.


Travel reservations is another category showing similar usage across generations.  Overall, one in four adults use the internet for travel reservations on a monthly basis.  Millennials and Boomers fall right at the 25% mark while Generation X has slightly higher usage at 29%, making them 14% more likely to do so than their generational counterparts.

Another category coming close to reaching generational parity is national news.  Twenty-eight percent of adults use the internet to obtain national news on a monthly basis.  While it still has a slightly younger skew with 32% of both Millennials and Generation X obtaining national news on the internet, Boomers are closing the gap at 26%.  Parity for this category will be gained as online news publishers produce content that addresses the interests and concerns of each generation.

With the abundance of new online sites and apps for financial services and information, it’s no surprise this category is close to reaching parity as well.  Nineteen percent of total adults use the internet monthly for financial information and services. Millennials and Generation X are the most likely to do so at 22% and 21% respectively, however Boomers are not far behind at 17%.  To close the gap with Boomers, financial institutions may want to consider educational content to assist this group in being able to both easily and comfortably manage their money online.

While the Greatest Generation may never reach the digital savviness of their younger counterparts, Boomers’ activities are narrowing the gap for many online categories.  As marketers tailor content and functionality to the interests and needs of each generation, we can expect to see a number of additional categories reach generational parity in the near future.

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Source: Nielsen Scarborough USA+ 2006 & 2015, Release 2




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