At a time when the internet has never had so many active users – with 5.18 billion of them in April – The Digital 2023 April Global Statshot Report rounds up the reasons people go online. The latest GWI research reveals that “online brand research” remains the top reason for using the internet, with more older people citing this as the primary reason for visiting the internet than young users.

According to the data released by Dataportal with the help of GWI, more than half of internet users worldwide (50.5%) said that they “research brands, products, and services online before making a purchase.”

(Source: Digital 2023 April Global Statshot Report)

This number was highest in Brazil with 7 out of 10 internet users (70.3%) in the vast Latin American country using the internet for brand research. Indonesia follows in second place, with 70.2% of respondents to GWI’s survey saying that “brand research” is one of their top online activities.

The report also revealed that India has surpassed 50% internet penetration with more than half of India’s population now using the internet.

A recent report from Nielsen indicates that the number of internet users in India reached 720 million at the end of 2022, equating to 50.5% of the country’s total population.

Note that even with this increased internet adoption, less than half of these users (47.2%) use the internet to research brands, products, and services before purchase.

The figures were less than half for users in Africa with Kenya being an exception. According to the GWI findings, 50.6% of Kenyans use the internet to do online brand research.

Comparing Online Brand Research By Age

But perhaps the most important takeaway for marketers from the report is in the age-specific motivations data showing the extent to which older generations rely on the internet to inform their purchase decisions.

The GWI research reveals that older generations are more likely to use the internet for brand research than younger generations are. The research firm’s data shows that almost 45% of internet users aged 55-64 years said they typically research services and products online before buying them. Compared with just 46% of users aged 16-24.

(Source: Digital 2023 April Global Statshot Report)

Brand research also ranks high amongst older generations’ reasons for going online. GWI’s data shows that researching brands and products ranks 5th amongst the motivations of internet users aged 55 to 64, while researching health and travel placed also rank in their top 10. Note that these activities don’t even rank among the top 10 motivations for users aged 16-24.

(Source: Digital 2023 April Global Statshot Report)

Even more interestingly, this pattern is evident in social media motivations too. This is in contrast to stereotypes that only young people are influenced by marketing messages on social media platforms.

GWI’s data reveals that finding products to buy ranks fourth among the reasons people aged 55 to 64 use social media platforms. This motivation ranks just eighth among users aged 16 to 24.

(Source: Digital 2023 April Global Statshot Report)

These findings have significant implications for digital marketers, acting as a warning for them not to be fooled by age and generational stereotypes because digital marketing is just as relevant for older generations as it is for Generation Z.

So when formulating digital marketing strategies, companies should be informed that they can use social media sites to reach all age groups, including older people.

But what are the best ways to reach those older internet users when looking to communicate to them information about brands?

There are more interesting findings from the report as the GWI’s data also shows where people go to research brands online, broken down by age.

One of the most exciting takeaways here is that company or product websites are still a crucial source of information for those in older age groups.

It is obvious that the video-sharing app TikTok is popular amongst younger internet users, but with people over the age of 50 accounting for more than half of all US consumer spending, it’s well worth investing in a diverse marketing mix that caters to the motivations and behaviors of all age groups.

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