Pope’s ugly nephews and nieces flock to the web

16 Nov 2006

Broadband customers in their late 40s and early 50s have emerged as the fastest growing internet user group in the country, email marketing firm CheetahMail said in a report that reads eerily like a chapter from David McWilliams’ book The Pope’s Children.

However, unlike the opulent Pope’s children born in 1979 analysed by McWilliams, these silver surfers are mostly likely to have been spotty teenagers or impoverished college students rocking out to Thin Lizzy around the time of the Pope’s visit. They are most likely to have played their own part in the baby boom that followed.

According to email marketing firm CheetahMail, a division of Experian. these so-called ‘Suburban High Earners’ now account for almost a third of all broadband users in Ireland (28.1pc) and they are rapidly gaining ground on their younger neighbours.

CheetahMail’s analysis attempts to understand the people behind their computers. CheetahMail is the sponsor of tonight’s Irish Internet Association (IIA) Net Visionary Awards.

Suburban High Earners are typically in their late 40s and 50s and are not traditionally associated with being technologically savvy. Largely consisting of parents at the peak of their earning power, they are newly confident technology users and place a high level of importance on their children’s education.

Refreshingly, Suburban High Earners recognise the benefits of broadband in research and information and helping their children study.

Despite the concerted push by Suburban High Earners, the highest number of broadband users (52.1pc) still falls into the ‘Celtic Cub’ category. Being recent graduates, the members of this group’s lifestyle is transitional between that of a student and that of a young professional.

Most Celtic Cubs live in major city centres and lead cosmopolitan lifestyles that involve socialising in bars, clubs and sporting venues with significant amounts of their disposable income spent on experiences rather than possessions.

The second-largest group identified by CheetahMail’s analysis is consumers falling into the ‘City Edge Starter Home’ category, who account for 31.4pc of broadband users.

Living in houses on large, modern, private estates built on the outer edge of Dublin, this group tends to be well-educated and is able to command high incomes in rapidly expanding sectors of the economy.

Many have felt obliged to move onto the property ladder, before marriage, in order to safeguard themselves against further house price inflation.

“The typical profile of an online user in Ireland is rapidly changing,” explained Stephen Doyle, CheetahMail’s business development manager. “A whole new, older generation of internet user is now embracing the web’s potential and, as broadband access increases, marketing methods need to be adapted accordingly.”

CheetahMail’s analysis was conducted by applying Mosaic, Experian’s consumer classification system, to census data and Experian’s proprietary lifestyle surveys. The life-stage description system built by Mosaic divides the population of Ireland into 11 groups and 40 distinct consumer types.

By John Kennedy