Senior and Tech-Savvy: Why It’s Important To Recognize a Growing Population of Elderly Technophiles

It’s the young that use technology the most, right? Pretty much. But, whilst that’s generally true, we certainly shouldn’t forget about our elders. They’re far more tech-savvy than you think. Because of this, our seniors are going to have more of an impact on e-commerce and mobile tech industries than you could imagine.

senior and tech savvy - in the gameSeniors: Still in the Game…and Changing It!

When we think of technology, we think of Millenials taking selfies and posting them on social media, and playing with must-have gadgets. Constantly connected and digitally disposed, the younger generations are driving the tech industry and everything connected with it, such as e-commerce and app development. Because of this, these generations are constantly in the sights of marketers trying to crack their consumption code.

But when we think of elders, we think of sweet, docile seniors sitting in a rocking chair reminiscing about the “good old days”, and doing not much else. Tech is either absent or rudimentary in this idyllic image.

However, that picture couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dispelling stereotypes and understanding just how connected and switched-on seniors are in today’s society is actually key to tapping into what will be a growing e-commerce and digital market sector. Aging populations mean we’re only going to have bigger senior cohorts in future years. Furthermore, these elders may well be as tech-hungry as today’s youngsters.

So, let’s explore how and why seniors are nowhere near the technophobes we think them to be, and what this means for the tech industry. We’ll also take a snapshot of how this currently affects Listonic’s apps’ usage.

senior and tech savvy - whyWhy Are Seniors So Surprisingly Tech-Savvy?

The answer is because they own devices. But how do they get them?

The main reason behind elderly ownership of smart devices is that younger family members often gift them to elders.

But why and what for?

Well, they want to keep in touch. Even when bought by seniors on their own volition, being connected is the main reason the elderly have devices such as smartphone and tablets.

Indeed, according to research by Pew Research, 42% of seniors 65 and older own a smartphone, and 32% own a tablet.

Other research found that 82% of adults over 65 years of age use the internet daily for searching, with 69% checking social media on a daily basis too.

Elders also use regularly use Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) applications, like Skype, to keep in touch with family members and friends. They also play casual games for entertainment.

In short, a lot more seniors are using technology than we think. So much so that, in Australia, it was found that device addiction is worse in seniors as it is in younger generations.

senior and tech savvy - online shoppersAre Seniors Online Shoppers?

Absolutely!

As well as using devices for social and entertainment reasons, seniors are also using technology to shop.

Senior citizens make up for 28% of online shopping purchases. Whilst, the generation below, the Baby Boomers, make up 41%.

But that doesn’t mean that seniors are abandoning brick and mortar stores. Many still prefer to shop at them. But things that entice seniors to shop online include:

  • Better availability of product information online – labeling in stores might be difficult to read and also lack of comprehensive information, putting seniors off shopping there. This is something that is easily remedied online.
  • No badly located products – products placed on shelves too low or too high cause difficulty for seniors with mobility issues
  • No long queues – surveyed seniors greatly dislike waiting in line for too long
  • Easier to find discounts – seniors love coupons and discounts. Finding them consolidated online rather than sifting through individuals brochures is more convenient.
  • Better comfort – a lack of seating in stores can make shopping difficult for senior citizens. Shopping online can be done in complete comfort.

senior and tech savvy - listonic demographicsAre Elders Using Listonic’s Products?

We can talk a lot about the potential of the senior market, but what is the picture at the moment?

Looking at the demographics of our own apps, there’s not much evidence to show that seniors are as engaged with them.

Two of our apps, which have the most potential to tap into the elderly demographic, Listonic (shopping list app), and Sales&Deals (coupon/deals app), see only a fraction of senior usage compared to other age groups.

People 55 years of age and up comprise only 8% of our users across both apps. The majority of our users on both applications are in the 24-35 years old bracket.

Senior and tech savvy - Sales & Deals DemographicsEven though this number is small, it still accounts for more than 75k elderly global users. That’s certainly more seniors than you can shake a walking stick at.

So does this mean that seniors are not as savvy as discussed?

Not necessarily.

So much market research these days is spent looking at Millenials and Generation Z that seniors are forgotten about and therefore are not marketed to or designed for. Listonic could potentially increase its appeal and use by a senior audience by targetting this potential market. We can do this by making adjustments to our digital presence and app design that would make them more senior-friendly.

senior and tech savvy - what does this meanWhat Does This Mean For The Tech-Industry?

As more and more seniors are predicted to start using the internet and apps for shopping and other purposes, website and app developers will certainly need to make their products senior-friendly if they want to attract capitalize on “grey pride”.

Things that developers will need to take into account are design features that make it easier for the elderly to use apps and websites as their motor and vision skills start to deteriorate. This includes things like:

  • Cleaner interfaces – simple and not too busy, avoiding complex features
  • Larger icons, pictures, and buttons – easier for seniors to see
  • Comprehensive and clear product details – this provides an edge over the minimal information displayed in grocery stores and shops
  • Clearly placed contact information – seniors hold good customer service in high regard, so being able to contact someone easily is essential

At Listonic, we could do with taking these considerations into account too. If not, we could get left behind from a market sector that could surprisingly boost our business.

Certainly, we will not be the only app developer looking to make changes to appeal to the elderly. Tapping into this demographic may well become as important as keeping the young and naturally digitally dexterous on board with our products.

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