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A new data source to help track technology adoption and interest

It’s a slog searching for data about tech adoption of older adults.  So many years of searching and trying to understand gaps in adoption, less and less usable data. Survey organizations exist that track adoption by age (think Pew Research, Nielsen, AARP) – but the frequency with which they publish surveys about technology has diminished over the years.  Checking out the main page of Pew, for example. See how so many other topics are more click-worthy than their Internet and Technology material.  AARP’s tech surveys are annual – and this year slipped into April. Others like Forrester, Gartner, and Parks Associates survey, but do very little analysis based on age.

Age of Majority offers a new 763-responder lens to help brands market to the 55+. With a focus on older consumers that should matter to brand marketers,  Digital by Device is a new report that leverages its panel they call Revolution55. These “Active Agers” aged 55+ represent, according to the company, 75% of the 55+ population. (Presumably the remaining 25% are not 'active').  In this case that meant obtaining responses from 763 adults aged 55+ about adoption of devices like computers, smartphones, smart TVs, smart speakers, wearables, and aspects of the connected home. Given the recent growth in investor interest in older adults as a category worth bankrolling, this makes sense. The company also categorizes its subjects into personas about panel preferences that could be useful to marketers seeking to reach the 55+ customer. (Oddly, it even sells merchandise to underscore its focus.)

Among its 55+ cohort, adoption of certain tech compares with AARP data.  Who knew that 43% of this panel are controlling/managing devices connected to the home Wi-Fi network (47% men, 39% women)? In addition, 56% are married, 73% own their own home, more than half have incomes over $50,000/year. The survey also reports that:

  • 91% have smart phones (AARP’s 50+ reports 85%)
  • 58% have smart TVs (AARP’s 50+ reports 64%)
  • 34% own wearable tech (AARP’s 50+ reports 27%)
  • While 92% are banking online, 88% are concerned about identity theft
  • Despite that concern, 45% are doing banking transactions on smartphones.
  • One third of those that do not use devices to manage home security are interested in doing so in the future

Data matters in all aspects of reaching and serving older adults.  Imagine that you are a Fintech startup – building your business around financial behaviors of young people. Shouldn’t you also know that there is a market of prospective clients, worried enough to want help in protecting their information?  Or you are a health insurer or wearable device maker. Wouldn't you want to know that 21% of the 55+ market was using a wearable to track their own vital signs? Or that 42% want to use their devices to manage the safety and security of a loved one?  Age of Majority targets brands with its service, but its data is also useful to non-profits, consultants, market researchers, and government agencies -- seeking a fresh lens on a much-neglected market.  It just makes marketing sense.

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