Age plays an important role in how we target and communicate with consumers. 2013 has seen some important shifts in online behaviour amongst different demographics, which look set to impact on the way we market our businesses in the coming months.

Looking back to my previous blog on the growth of private social media and messaging amongst younger audiences, businesses will be seeking new ways to efficiently gather data and target those connecting in closed networks. As such, expect to see the birth of several new digital advertising models and propositions in 2014.

In line with this shift in how we address younger audience segments, I believe we will also see more attention turn to silver surfers. This unique demographic is on the up in social media and digital adoption. In fact, the over 55-age group is now the dominant Internet user group in the UK - representing 9 million unique users in 2012. Nowadays, 42% of these silver surfers say they cannot even imagine life without the web.

In addition to its size, this target group is interesting in that it is massively diverse (spanning a wide age range), is more cash and time rich than its younger counterparts, and is less prone to adopting fleeting trends, meaning a generally more predictable trajectory of behaviour.

The over-50s segment is one of the richest populations in the UK. Notably, older people are said to own around 80% of the UK’s total private wealth. With less financial responsibilities, this is also a more readily disposable income than that of younger demographics, meaning this target market is an attractive and hugely lucrative market to tap in to.

Contrary to often popular belief, the silver surfer market is very much ‘keeping up with the times’. In 2013, it was reported that 58% of EU adults aged 55 and over owned an Internet-enabled mobile. And that’s not the end of this increasingly tech-savvy market’s boundaries. In the UK, 58% of 66-88 year olds now shop online (almost as much as the national average of 59%).

Clearly, our senior citizens are embracing technology in order to enhance communication, facilitate every-day life, make savings and collect information. So, what are we doing as digital marketers to embrace them back? I’d say not enough.

We currently fail to truly recognise the diversity of this market. We commonly group the over-55s into a singular segment, blindly ignoring opportunities that present themselves if we delve a little deeper.

So, let’s take a look at some interesting statistics that emphasise the disparity and variety presented by the silver surfer market: