September 9, 2008, 12:00 AM

Video and social networking sites are not just for the young, study shows

Baby Boomers, those 44 to 61, visit social networking and video sites in substantial numbers, even if not as often as teens and young adults, The NPD Group finds.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Online retailers targeting middle-aged consumers can find quite a few of them at online social networking and video sites, suggests a new report from The NPD Group.

61% of Internet users between the ages of 44 and 61 have visited video sites such as YouTube or TV network web sites, while 41% have visited social networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace. While social networks are even more popular among the young-80% of online users 13 to 34 have visited them-it’s a misperception that such web sites are only for the young, says NPD entertainment industry analyst Russ Crupnick.

“That misperception could cost the entertainment industry, in terms of lost opportunities to target valuable consumers,” says Crupnick, author of NPD’s new report “Entertainment Trends in America.”

Overall, 57% of web users have visited social networking sites, NPD says, and Baby Boomers who visited those sites went there an average of eight times in the previous three months. Those who use social networks are more likely to buy DVDs, CDs and to go to the movies, and those who stream video are 15% more likely to make such purchases than non-streaming adults.

Online shopping, is more prevalent among older consumers, the study found. That could be because older shoppers are more likely to have credit cards, NPD says. 85% of those 44 to 61 shop online, versus 77% of online consumers between the ages of 13 and 34.

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