Biz Bits: Can the Internet close the generation gap?

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week

The Internet is a great equalizer, giving all who use it virtually the same access to a vast vault of information, from the relevant and vital to silly minutia. Yet how we use the Web and behave in the digital world varies greatly, depending on our age, familiarity with digital media and other demographic factors, a new survey reveals.

"Real people populate the digital landscape and many companies are looking for ways to connect with consumers by incorporating the digital world into their marketing strategy," says Bill Tancer, global research director of Experian Marketing Services, the company that produced the "2010 Digital Marketer" report. "Understand how different groups use digital media not only helps marketers make offers that are relevant to you, it helps us better understand ourselves.”

Many of the differences in how people use the Internet are age-based, yet other aspects of our use are universal. For example, the Internet is the most important digital media channel and e-mail the most preferred messaging channel across all age groups, according to the report. And online shopping is mainstream for a large portion of the population - adults ages 25 to 49.

Yet we vary on other types of digital communication. Adults 18 to 34 prefer instant messaging or text message to converse in the digital world, and mobile phones and social sites are their main sources of information and entertainment. Consumers 50 and older, however, prefer the Internet to their mobile phones, and engage in online activities such as researching financial and medical information.

We respond differently to digital advertising as well, based on the generation gap, the study shows. This is important information for marketers, as industry experts anticipate spending on online advertising will continue to increase in 2010.

There are, however, areas where the generations are like-minded. Fifty-three percent of online adults of all ages say they are very likely or likely to open an e-mail that contains promotions or coupons. And 30 percent say they are likely to forward such e-mails to others. And nine or more of the top 25 keywords used in subject lines in 2009 referred to a sale or an offer, with words such as free, sale or percent off drawing consumer attention.

"Consumers want to be - and are - constantly connected," Tancer says. "Knowing where to reach them in the digital landscape helps marketers better connect with their customers."


BBB Watch

The Better Business Bureau shares these common financial issues that need to be considered by recent graduates to prepare for secure financial footing:

- Being prepared for emergencies. It's often recommended that everyone have at least a three-month emergency fund. You never know when you're going to have car problems or home repairs. Borrowing money on a high interest credit card can cost you hundreds of dollars in interest payments.

- Living off plastic. Living off of a credit card is one of the worst financial mistakes that can be made. If you are living off your credit card, you may be spending more than you're earning. A credit card is similar to a loan; the money will have to be paid back, with interest. Try to find a credit card with a low interest rate or call your credit card company to try and lower your current rate if possible.

- Making minimum payments. Paying the minimum on a credit card bill is another expensive mistake and may result in higher fees. The higher the balance, the longer it will take to pay off and the more interest you will pay. If possible, only use your credit cards for emergencies and pay off the entire balance on time.

- Using loan leftovers. It is possible to have some money leftover from a college or personal loan. Instead of spending leftover loan money, use it to pay back what you have borrowed. The longer it takes to repay a loan, the more money you're going to pay in interest.

- Racing to build credit. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they need to build credit while they are still in college. While it is always smart to have good credit, avoid opening multiple credit cards to try and quickly build credit. This could lead to high risk if you lose track of your billing.

For more information on how to manage your finances, visit

The List

If you plan to watch the World Cup starting June 11, expect to see a lot of these companies’ ads – they’re the U.S. team’s official sponsors:

- AT&T

- Anheuser-Busch

- Castrol

- Dick's Sporting Goods

- Gatorade

- Jose Cuervo

- McDonald’s

- Nike

- Pepsi

- Visa

Number to Know

9,000: Number of jobs that Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to ax in order to cut costs.

GateHouse News Service