How many times have you had to come to the rescue when your mom couldn’t get online with her iPad, or dad couldn’t figure out why his Roku wouldn’t connect to the internet? It’s pretty common that older people aren’t as savvy with technology as those who are younger, but they still use tech devices almost as much. However, consumer-tech brand marketers seem to be ignoring them in their targeting strategies by focusing on Gen Z and millennials—and new research reveals that people over 50 feel left out and even patronized.
The new study from marketing comms agency Clarity reveals that nearly half (46 percent) of American consumers over 50 feel as though consumer technology brands don’t market towards their generation, and a further 43 percent believe marketing that does target their age group is patronizing. This report is the first in the firm’s bi-annual report series Marketing Myths: The Technophobes, which details how consumer technology brands, particularly smart home brands, are missing a key growth audience who hold over 95.58 trillion dollars in household wealth by overlooking consumers over 50.
The report, which surveyed over 1,000 Americans over 50, in partnership with 3Gem Research & Insights, reveals that 67 percent of over 50s desire to be more tech-savvy, indicating that despite public perception of this audience being less proficient than younger generations, they are eager to utilize the latest technology. Additionally, the report found the over-50 demographic to be particularly loyal, with three out of four considering themselves as such, and well over half (58 percent) considering themselves vocal brand advocates. With a staggering 117 million Americans over 50, consumer tech brands are missing out on tremendous growth potential by overlooking this loyal audience who are clearly keen to utilize the latest technology.
“It is time for brands to start listening to and addressing the over 50 market,” said Monica Feig, executive vice president at Clarity, in a news release. “These are consumers who entered adulthood at the dawn of the Internet and have the means and the perspective to shape how subsequent generations interact with it. As we head into the New Year, marketers have the opportunity to re-evaluate their budgets and tailored campaigns to ensure these consumers are considered as a core audience.”
The research also found that while the largest deterrent for over 50s buying new tech products is cost (63 percent), the vast majority of these consumers see the long-term impact that tech products can have on their wallets. While there is significant household wealth among this audience, this signifies that the over 50s audience is strategic in their spending—which necessitates a deeper communication of product value in order to convert them to buyers.
From an accessibility perspective, the report found that older generations are more capable with consumer technology than society may believe, with 64 percent saying tech products feel easy to set up. However the perceived ease of setting up consumer tech devices as a whole decreases with age, indicating that this audience remains at a disadvantage with a need for additional product education.
“Given how much of an appetite over 50-year-olds have for consumer technology, it is an extraordinary miss that so many brands are clearly getting it so wrong,” said Christine Reilly, senior vice president at Clarity, in the release. “If smart home brands can clearly articulate how smart technology can improve their lives in an approachable way, this generation will clearly sit up and pay attention.”
The report also includes additional insight from comms pros on how this demographic requires an engaging experience to effectively communicate key messages, and recommends top and mid-funnel activities such as earned media, social, influencers, video ads and SEO to reach them, as well as strategy that demonstrates product value.
The research was conducted by 3Gem Research & Insights among a sample of 1,000 consumers aged 50+. The data was collected between August 31, 2023 and September 12, 2023.