We may find it easy to laugh at our elders when it comes to their lack of technological literacy and the constant requests for help with the simplest of tasks. However, looking at statistics and research it looks like we might owe our elders an apology considering that Baby boomers embrace technology as much as younger users. While this generation might not have grown up with computers in their homes, they have witnessed the introduction of the PC into our households, and numerous other forms of technology in our everyday lives.
One reason for this generation’s interest in technology can be attributed to the fact that they have the finances to fund this inquisitive hobby. As AARP states in a previous article titled “boomers are digitally-savvy consumers” – “While those in the younger age groups tend to wander online, Boomers are intentional. They’re looking for solutions or are aiming to buy something. In fact, according to research by Forrester, you can expect people 50 and older to spend around $400 online every three months.”
The article goes on to say that “One out of every two Boomers buys new tech products every year, investing in e-readers, computers, smartphones, smart watches, wearable tech, and more. Boomers are the ones with the expendable income, and that means they’re ready and willing to upgrade their toys and treat themselves when the right device comes along.”
As the below graph demonstrates, ownership of a variety of technological devices is incredibly high among those aged 50+. According to Tech.co, we can expect this number to rise thanks to a number of areas which boomers are interested in such as Travel, Healthcare/Caregiving, Fitness and Pet Care, all being enhanced one way or another through the use of technology.
We spoke with Jonathan Breeze, the CEO of AardvarkCompare.com, a travel insurance comparison site for seniors, who says “The challenge that many companies face when they engage with Boomers online is that seem to try to provide an overwhelming amount of data for a customer to work through. Boomers are intentional when online. They are looking for a specific solution to a specific challenge. They do not wish to meander around a series of different websites piecing together their own solution. The art, when working with a Boomer audience, is to provide a curated solution for them. It is the job of the business to anticipate the needs of the customer, and provide a curated range of options to choose from.”
He adds “Simple guidance must be provided to justify the solution. Trust must be won – Boomers lived through the early years of internet shopping and were routinely ripped off. In short – Anticipate the specific needs of the customer. Provide a curated solution. Offer guidance as to which product or service is a best fit. Win and maintain trust.”
Clearly, we must not dismiss those over 50 as savvy tech consumers, after all this is the generation that gave us Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and the late Steve Jobs. And more importantly they have the interest and the money to be the early adopters of new technology, and marketers would be wise not to forget this despite their clear interest in younger generations.
Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company