“Who’s On First” Shows Retailers Who’s Using The Internet, Smartphones & Socials

Overall, 75.7% of the population goes online at least monthly, and penetration is even higher among younger demographic groups, eMarketer estimates. When it comes to marketing, competition, and pricing intelligence, this would be important for retailers to know  So when it comes to Internet, smartphones and socials, let's take a look at the Abbott & Costello classic, Who's on first?* to find out about these  target audiences: OK, so who's on first? Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials. What? No Who? Who's on first? Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials. No. What's on second? Teen girls and low-income teens who are more likely to access Internet via mobile. No, waitaminute! Who's on first and What's on second? No. Moms are more likely to be on Facebook and Twitter than Gen Xers. How? No, not How, Who? Who's on first? Teen girls and low income teens accessing Internet via mobile are on second. Then Who's on third? I don't know. The old people are on third, and not likely to steal home. Why? No, Where? Where did you learn this? From eMarketer and Marketing Profs.

Waitaminute, let's examine this more carefully to see who's driving which web and internet activities -- Millennials, Boomers, Gen Xers, moms, girls, and old people? Let's take a look at how this breaks down:

Millennials (Born between 1980 & 2000) Use Everything

92.3% used a mobile phone in 2012, among whom 63.2% used the mobile web and slightly fewer used smartphones. Millennials have the highest social networking penetration of any generation, and the highest Facebook and Twitter use rates to match.

Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) Are Mobile & Social

88.8% were monthly Internet users as of December 2012.

95% using mobile phones.

60.3% using smartphones.

62.2% (or 38.4 million Gen Xers) used the mobile Internet at least monthly.

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) Are Internet & Mobile

Nearly eight in 10, or 59.9 million baby boomers, were regular Internet users in 2012—and they were even more likely to use mobile phones, though mobile Internet and smartphone uptake were slow compared to other groups.

Teen Girls Are Mobile

Teen digital mavens have been quick to adapt their web habits to mobile devices, and now some are even using their phones as their primary internet access point, with girls, low-income teens more likely to access internet via mobile

95% of youths aged 12 to 17 had access to the internet.

74% had mobile access to the internet (i.e., via phone or tablet),

25% accessed the Internet primarily through a mobile device.

Moms Are On Facebook

eMarketer estimates that moms more likely to be on Facebook & Twitter than Gen X, at 94.5% vs. 75.7% of the overall population at the end of 2012. That’s nearly 34 million moms using the web on at least a monthly basis, a number that will inch up in coming years. More than eight in 10 of these women use social networking sites at least once per month, with three-quarters using Facebook specifically.

Seniors Are Watching TV

Just about half of US seniors use the Internet, and those who do spend less time at it than younger adults, according to an eMarketer report. Although a majority of seniors have mobile phones, comparatively few have smartphones. And while there may be talk of old folks interacting with grandchildren on Facebook, social networking penetration among seniors is low. For media usage, TV is still the medium that matters most for seniors, far more so than for younger generations.

Despite their generally tepid engagement with digital media, ecommerce is one online activity that makes practical sense for this age group, given that they have greater difficulty getting around. They’re also accustomed to buying through catalogs, and many find buying online a natural extension of that practice. Furthermore, seniors who do use ecommerce spent an average of $297 on online purchases vs. $449 for adult Internet users in general.

Bottom Line:

Retailers need to know their audience and where to find them for effective marketing, engagement, and sales. Price and competitor intelligence will always be a factor among customers, but you have to know the best channels for finding, reaching, and engaging each of these specific (and valuable) audiences to make your point and make your sales.

*For an explanation of the Who's on First Abbott & Costello routine. 

For full statistics and study attributions go to:






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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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