Death of Email Meme: Do the Kids Get Email?

Posted by George Bilbrey 

The death of email hypothesis goes something like this:

  • Younger generations use other methods to communicate than email.  They text to communicate. They IM to communicate. They use social networks to communicate.  The only time they use email is to talk to old folks.
  • When the younger generations make it into the workforce, email will be supplanted by other media.

I love the data that the Pew Center for Internet research produces (good AND free).  Recently they released their “Generations Online in 2009” study about how different age groups use the internet.  So what can we glean from the study?

Major findings:

  1. Teens and Generation Y find entertainment and social networks online
  2. Older generations use the internet as a tool for research, shopping and banking

So that’s not too surprising, right?  When you’re young you have more of a social life (or at least that’s true for me).  More free time = more time spent on entertainment.

As you get older, your life can get more complex and time is more scarce.  You use the tools you have to provide as much of that glorious free time you remember from when you were younger.

So what about email?

I think this chart says it best.  Email and search are the core activities of every online segment.  I would say that email’s days are not yet numbered.

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About George Bilbrey

George Bilbrey is the founder of the industry’s first deliverability service provider, Assurance Systems, which merged with Return Path in 2003. He is a recognized expert on the subjects of email reputation and deliverability and is active in many industry organizations, including the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) and the Online Trust Alliance (OTA). In his role as president of Return Path George is the driving force behind the ongoing innovation of our products and services. Prior to Return Path, George served as Director of Product Management at and as a partner in the telecommunications group at Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. in economics from Duke University, and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business, University of North Carolina.

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