Friday, February 02, 2007

Hi Ho Silver Lining

The silver surfers have arrived. In our report “Brave New World” we recognised the potential of this group, pensioners with time, potentially income but importantly a high affinity to books and reading. Others will talk at length about youth and their switched on lifestyle but ignore the silver surfers.

Insurance group AXA has conducted research that has found some interesting insight as to how pensioners spend their time. Browsing the Internet has overtaken both gardening and DIY and is now the UK pensioner’s favourite pastime. This encompasses email, researching information, booking holidays and shopping. They are embracing technology often encouraged by younger members of their family but are discovering the pleasure of home shopping and a less stressful life. 41% of retired Britons named the Internet as their favourite pastime, followed by 39% for gardening and DIY, 36% hobbies and 28% travel and walking. Four in ten retired people said that they were regular internet shoppers. Email captures 84 % of online closely followed by searching for information.

The level of time spent in Internet surfing places the UK among the top five in the eleven surveyed. The US is top with nine hours followed by Australia and Canada with seven hours per weekend.

The silver surfer is the obvious publishing target; they love books, reading and have time. Migrating the silver surfer onto audio downloads and digital content may be a lot easier than many have thought.

Market research is not about assuming you know the answers and then validating it. It is also about finding out what you don’t know and understanding it. The proposed industry digital reseach programme in “Brave New World” recognised the need to establish consumer attitudes and track these. This research shows there is potentially a significant digital market with existing book lovers. The question is how retailers and publishers need to engage with them, understand them and respect and provide what they want, how they want it and at a price that they will pay and perceive value.