Don’t Forget the Baby Boomers When Creating and Marketing New Tech Products

Like many of my tech friends who are over 55 but started in the world of technology when we were in our early 20’s or 30’s, technology is second nature to us. For those of us who grew up with tech, we often forget that the large majority of people in the US and around the world (especially in the over 50 age bracket) have not been as fortunate as we have been. In most cases, they have only embraced a technology if it can make their lives easier or provides new forms of services such as mobile telephony, instant messaging, and in much older demographics, a lifeline line to emergency services should they need them.

I have been reading a fascinating book entitled “The Longevity Economy-Unlocking the World’s Fastest Growing, Most Misunderstood Market” by Joseph F Coughlin, who is the Founder and Director of the MIT Agelab.

Mr. Coughlin states in his book that business leaders need to take more seriously the need to serve the growing older market, which he defines as a “vast, diverse group of consumers representing every possible level of health and wealth, worth about $8 trillion in the United States alone and climbing.”

The book is a fascinating read the delves into the fact that with modern medicine people are living much longer and in a lot of cases are more active and becoming more interested in the role technology could play in their lifestyles.

The Chart below shows that about 55% of folks over 50 in America have a smartphone, but I think that number is low. I have been inside some senior citizen facilities and most of the folks there have a cell phone and, in many cases, a smartphone. The chart also shows that about 56% have laptops and that also may be too low as we have seen laptops gain more acceptance in this age group too. Even tablets have become of interest to those over 50, and in a lot of instances, the tablet is the personal computer for people in this age bracket.

The other area that the over 50 crowd has embraced is social media. 65% of them are on Facebook, 21% on Instagram and 24% on Linked In while 19% are on Twitter.

As Mr. Coughlin points on in his book on “The Longevity Economy” this demographic also has money to spend. The 50-65 demographic is in all likelihood still working and has more dispensable income during these years as kids have left the nest and many are getting close to the end of 30 years of house payments. The over 65 crowd are starting to move to retirement, and they often have extra income to spend on tech if it meets a particular need.

Even armed with this information and knowing that an older demographic could buy their tech products, most PC makers and tech vendors design and market their products for a demographic of 18-45. While some vendors do place ads in publications like AARP and others mags aimed at an older demographic, ads placed there are an after-thought and not really part of a focused marketing push.

That is a mistake. This older generation needs technology more than ever as part of their aging lifestyle. This is especially true of things like smartwatches and fitness trackers with their added health tracking features, as well as dedicated devices like the ones from AliveCor who has an EKG watchband for the Apple Watch and a mobile EKG device. Other vendors have connected blood pressure readers and various connected tools for monitoring blood sugars for diabetics and other diseases.

This market is too large to ignore and all tech companies need to reassess this market that could be very lucrative for them.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

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