A rant about the Internet of Things hype.
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Baby boomers want information, to connect to others, and move or improve their homes
These are tough times to sell products. Period. But before being ossified into a state of discouragement, it's good to know that the baby boomer market segment is not tapped out yet as the attached two studies make clear.
AARP Housing Study 2008. According to the AARP 2008 study, older boomers are significantly more likely than younger boomers to think that they will move into a single level home (68% vs. 54% of those planning to move), but age is not the only factor that affects expectations. Boomer men are more likely than women to believe they will move into a newer home (61% vs. 42%) or move into a home in a warmer or better climate (41% vs. 25%) Boomer women are more likely than men to think they will move into a smaller home (54% v. 41%).
Focalyst Boomer Study 2008. Meanwhile, the latest Focalyst survey of Baby Boomers is clear that Boomers are not cutting back everywhere, including no intention, for example, to cut their cable TV subscriptions. And when asked what they want in products, they want better value, lower price, and products that are more durable, and healthier. Down the list as a priority, ironically, is better service. (Hopefully call center operators didn't read this study.) Most interesting, however, is how much the Focalyst boomers care about 'connectedness' -- others, their communities, and information.
So let's put the two together and think about the technology implications:
1) Information. Okay, so they want information and the ability to connect to others. I interpret that as: they are on the Internet, they are searching for more information, and they gravitate towards sharing. . For those vendors who are still debating whether to put some sort of community/forum component on their website that provides contextual information from other sites, stop wondering, as I suggested previously and just do it.
2) Home plans. Boomers are going to move at some point -- but older boomers -- who are seniors within just 2 years -- are most likely to want to move. If they cannot -- based on the current economic situation -- they are going to renovate, to the degree they can afford. They have an opportunity to speed up their internet connection (to get information), add wireless (to move around their home and get information), consider improving their mobile access to information, perhaps with a smart phone.
So vendor marketers need to understand how to communicate why those upgrades are useful to them, whether their products require wireless in the home or they are device-based vendors that take advantage of GPS location services for boomers to find information about what they need, and even using GPS to enable themselves to be more easily located.
3) Cable TV. So what are information-purveyors doing to leverage the total devotion boomers have to their cable TV plans -- including local cable TV advertising, home shopping networks, and visibility on relevant cable channels? Now 'cross channel' marketing really matters -- can aging in place vendors use multiple channels like stores, distributors and catalogues, websites, phone-based marketing, and cable television? If they do, I believe they have a greater chance of success in tough times.
A final and scary thought, perhaps for another day: Looks like from a longevity trend perspective, according to Dr. James Canton, of the Institute for Global Futures, within 10 years it will no longer be surprising to live past 100. So okay, maybe he's right. But here's where I just feel a bit cautious: so where will we live, who will help us, with what technology assistance, and who will pay for all this, and from what income?