It is widely assumed that over-65s (boomers) are ‘not down with the kids’. Fear not, Gen Z and Millennials; Boomers should not be underestimated with their tech usage and especially should not be overlooked with future innovations.
Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that around 75% of adults aged 65+ utilise the internet, with women aged 75+ showing the greatest upsurge in usage of any demographic group. But where is the greatest opportunity to build a relationship with these individuals?
Labelled ‘Instagrans’, the percentage of over 65s who say they are active on social networks has grown from 15 per cent to 23 per cent (Office for National Statistics). According to the ONS, social media has become part of these adult’s everyday lives. With younger browser numbers plateauing- this boomer generation are ones to watch and actively target.
Social media is arguably a healthy emotional outlet for the older generation, providing networks to stay in contact, reconnect and regularly engage with a wider community of people. They primarily utilise social media to connect with like-minded individuals. For example, they use it for health information and to connect with others experiencing the same challenges. It’s less of a ‘selfie’ and ‘bragging’ platform, but more of an expressive engagement outlet.
Brands need to therefore ensure that the content they push to this demographic is meaningful. Although they have more time after retirement, this does not mean any old junk can be pushed at them. This is true for all age brackets suggesting that segmenting by age is not the sole factor- interests and psychographics (not just demographics) is key.
Internet of things
It has been speculated that we will be living in a ‘silver tsunami’ where there will be more people over the age of 65 living on this planet than those under 5 years of age. Boomers want to ‘age in place’ and want to remain self-sufficient and independent for as long as possible. Technological assistance through IoT is rapidly coming to fruition bringing a multitude of benefits to the older generation.
The communicative elements between 'Internet of Things' devices can act as a useful companion to the older generation. Whether this group want to control their heating, lock doors and windows, or even encouraging activeness like going for a walk. The IoT can provide enhancements and ease to the older generation’s life, very much like any other age cohort.
Again, a theme seems to be building. Over 65s’ IoT usage is not out of the ordinary and does not seem specific to their age group. All ages seek ease, convenience, and safety. Age is proving to be just a number with regards to tech.
The root of influencer marketing is not a new revelation. Although widespread success has emerged from the likes of Zoella, Alfie Deyes and Tanya Burr; this has been built on a human instinct to listen and learn from others. Influencer marketing also makes a great deal of business sense; focusing on a fraction of respected and trusted is more value for money than connecting with everyone.
Like any age group, it is vital to find the right influencer; one who resonates with your audience. Boomers have been reported to be sceptical of these ‘Youtubers’. However, if we understand this age bracket’s digital footprint this will, in turn, uncover who are key influencers to this group. Micro-influencers (between 1000-90,000 followers) could be explored for boomers. Individuals see these micro-influencers as friends and because the following is smaller, it is likely they have a niche following falling into similar demographics. Perfect for searching for the growing over 65 tech audience!
Mark Twain famously said "age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter." Over 65s are forging themselves as an integral tech stakeholder. Understanding of psychographics of these boomers in the realms of tech is just as important as demographics. Brands must keep telling themselves this, especially if they use age as the primary method of segmentation.
Sophie Beckley is a planner at Connect.