The last post in the Russian Internet User Demographics series looks at one of the most overlooked groups of users; Russian senior citizen Internet users. Still battling stereotypes concerning their lack of familiarity with technology, many elderly people active on the Internet are neglected by advertisers and web hosts. However, despite using the Internet in lower numbers than their younger peers, elderly Internet users still form a critical part of a country’s Internet base. They have different interests and desires than younger Internet users, and it is important for advertisers to understand what senior citizens use the Internet for in order to know how to target them.  This is especially true for Russia’s aging population.

This blog post will focus on Russian senior citizen Internet users who are in the 55+ year-old age group. As Internet penetration expands in Russia, the elderly are a key group to watch in the years going forward. As with most European countries, Russia has an aging population. With a median age just over thirty-nine, Russia is one of the older post-Soviet nations, and is the oldest BRICS country. Currently, almost 30% of the population is over the age of 55, and this number will only grow as Russia continues to age.

In addition to the resources used in the previous posts in this series, this article will use data collected by Gemius on the websites most frequently visited by seniors in Russia.

Internet Use

Russians 55-64 formed the second smallest group of Internet users in 2014 according to TNS Russia, while 65+ were just under 5% of all Russians online.  Altogether Russians over 55 were 16.2% of all Internet users in 2014, lower than any of the other age groups.  For the oldest of these, it is partly a reflection of their lower proportion of the Russian population.  However, the main reason for this group being the smallest base of Internet users is their low penetration.  Russians 55-64 have an Internet penetration rate of about 50%, while the rate among men 65+ is 28% and for women it is 17%.  These statistics help illustrate why seniors will be such a key market in future years.  As Russia’s population ages, people who are more experienced with the Internet will age into the 55+ group, which will coincide with a growing Internet uptake among current senior citizens.

Despite the low Internet penetration among older Russians, a Fom.ru survey found that many would still find their lives altered were they to lose access to the Internet.  About half of all respondents 50 years and older reported that their lives would change significantly without the Internet, and less than 10% said their lives would not change at all.  The same survey found that senior Russians typically use the Internet most for communication, with 64% reporting this.  55% of respondents told Fom.ru they used the Internet most often to read the news, which was the highest percentage of all age groups.  The data from Gemius shows that MK.ru, the web portal for the popular Moscow tabloid Moskovskij Komsomolets, is one of the most popular sites for senior Russians.  MSN.ru is another popular news site among Russians over 55.  Russians over 50 were least likely to use the Internet for work and for relaxation.  They also were not likely to have used the Internet for consuming media in the past month, and they were the least likely among all age groups to engage in online shopping.  Senior Russians are the least likely to use online dating services, constituting just 3% of all online dating users in 2015.

Social Media

Senior Russians are the least prolific users of social media.  They were, by far, the largest group of Internet users responding to a Fom.ru survey to report not using any social network, at 28%.  Russians over 50 were also the least likely to report using VK, Russia’s largest social media site.  Compared to younger Internet users, senior Russians were much less likely to use social media for uses other than communicating with others.

The low popularity of social networking among older Russians is further emphasized in observing the sites they most often frequent.  Using data collected by Gemius, we can observe that there are no social networks among the ten sites most popular among Russian seniors. VK, one of Russia’s most popular websites, is absent from the list, and even Odnoklassniki, which tends to be popular among older Russians, is not one of the most popular sites. If the history of social networking in the industrialized West can be used as a guide, this will likely change in the coming years, as seniors become interested in using social networking in order to interact with younger family members and reconnect with old friends.  The higher popularity of social media among younger Russians also bodes well for the future of social networking, as the next generations of senior Russians will be much more active on social media.

Accessing the Internet

Although mobile devices are an increasingly popular way to access the Internet in Russia, it is a trend that is heavily biased towards younger Russians.  While 90% of Russians 18-24 who use the Internet do so on their mobile devices, this falls to just 18% of 45+ year old Internet users.  Russians over 55 make up the smallest group of mobile Internet users in Russia at around 11%.  A Fom.ru survey found that respondents over 50 were the least likely among all ages to report accessing the Internet from a mobile phone or tablet.  The most popular method of accessing the web was from a home desktop, though even then just 40% of senior respondents said they got online this way.

E-Commerce

Online shopping is still an area for growth among seniors in Russia.  They make up just 7% of e-commerce shoppers, and in one of the aforementioned Fom.ru survey’s, they were the least likely to report having shopped online in the past month.  That being said, the data on the most popular websites among older Russians shows that a handful of e-commerce sites are among the most visited by senior citizens.  One of the most popular websites among senior Russians is AliExpress, which, as discussed in a previous post, is one of the most popular shopping portals in Russia. Not only are elderly Russians flocking to AliExpress, but they are doing it in increasing numbers. By some distance, AliExpress was the website that experienced the largest growth in the number of visitors between 2014 and 2015.

There are two other e-commerce websites on the list, and both have a much lower presence in Russia than AliExpress. Nadavi.ru is a somewhat antiquated shopping portal when compared to its more aggressive peers, but it remains popular among senior citizens in Russia. Tiu.ru is another online shopping source popular among senior citizens, and it too is somewhat of an obscure portal when compared to the major shopping outlets in Russia.

Russian senior citizen Internet users are recognizing that the Internet makes connecting with others and shopping much easier. As Internet penetration expands in Russia, the amount of older Internet users in Russia will grow into a larger and a more important demographic to target.