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Is it time to rethink your customer personas?

Is it time to rethink your customer personas?
Summary: The new Digital Senior is very different to the Silver Surfer. We take a look at changes in online usage and what you can do to target this growing market.

As Generation X-ers rapidly approach turning 60 (I know, scary isn’t it?), is it time to rethink how marketers approach Seniors?

Below are the results of some recent research on Media usage by age from OfCom:



Figure 1: OfCom Adults Media Use and Attitudes (2020)

The report, Adults Media Use and Attitudes (2020) , demonstrates that to dismiss 55+ as “not tech savvy” is a big mistake. Our aging population has meant that the number of non-users of the internet hasn’t changed in the last 7 years, but looking at the age profile of usage, that is going to change rapidly … and soon.

Internet usage by age

Figure 2: OfCom Adults Media Use and Attitudes (2020)

We should remember that today’s 60 year old was 31 when the first internet browser was launched in 1992, and was 37 when Google was founded in 1998. No, chances are they didn’t have much (if any) access to computers at school, but have they used computers regularly at work and home? – absolutely. We should also note that the proportion of 75+ using the internet has nearly doubled over this period.

Also, the high level of adoption of smartphones has meant that an increasing number of mature adults are becoming “plugged in”, and are taking to Social Media more and more.

Social media by age

Figure 3 : Statista – April 2021


What do Seniors use the Internet for?

According to Think Google, Seniors have reasons beyond shopping turn to online :


Figure 4 : Think with Google

However, in a recent Think Google survey, 36% of UK shoppers aged 55+ said they expect to be shopping on line for clothes in 6 months’ time – up 19% from before the pandemic.

Seniors don’t see being online as a choice. It’s an imperative. Yes, there are the push factors like not wanting to be seen as dinosaurs, or the closure of High Street banks, but there are also the pull factors of wanting to be able to relate to what their grandchildren are doing, and learning how to do new things – whether that’s how to put up a shelf or how to create a graph in excel. They are also following the trend of younger users and are watching less TV and are consuming more on demand services instead, such as You Tube :

Youtube users by age

Figure 5 : Google data – Qtr 3 2020


5 things you can do to attract the new Digital Senior

  • Do your homework. Use qualitative and quantitative data to inform your approach rather than assumptions and historical information.
  • Fish where the fish are swimming. Keep a track of where your Digital Seniors are spending their time on line and target those channels for brand awareness & advertising.
  • Avoid tech jargon & keep the customer journey simple. “Sometimes I get into difficulties such as not understanding certain terms or which button to touch”; “I dislike the amount of information you need to digest in order to do quite simple things” Researchgate
  •  Share useful content. Consider what information is helpful and useful to Digital Seniors. For some great insights, take a look at RestLess.
  •  Keep your promises. Build trust with your Digital Senior Community by communicating regularly with useful updates and by doing what you say you will.


For more information about building customer personas, check out our Buyer Persona Development page here at WSI Digital Advisors.

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