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Seniors and Technology - US - April 2009

By the year 2014, seniors (aged 65+) will account for 14% of the U.S. population. More than one in four (27%) people will be aged over 55. Technological innovations have changed the basic framework of the American lifestyle, but have been slower to catch on among seniors. This report focuses on how technological advances in consumer electronics, entertainment, and communications can be tailored to fit the needs of seniors.

This report addresses the following questions:

  • How does the desire to keep in touch with younger generations drive sales?
  • How many seniors are online, what activities do they participate in, and how does this affect marketing?
  • What do aging baby boomers mean for the market?
  • Among seniors, how are interests and attitudes affected by differences in age, gender, income and race?
  • How many seniors suffer from the loss of dexterity, hearing and sight, and how are consumer electronics manufacturers addressing these disabilities?
  • What is the role of the adult children of seniors in the senior-oriented electronics market?
  • What is the best way to reach seniors with marketing efforts?
  • How can retirement communities be used to further electronics sales?

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Consumer survey data
          • Abbreviations and terms
            • Abbreviations
              • Terms
              • Executive Summary

                • Over-55s to be one quarter of population
                  • Who are seniors?
                    • Identifying tech enthusiasts and early adopters among seniors
                      • Market to the children of seniors, rather than seniors themselves
                        • Reaching seniors on television
                          • Retirement/active adult communities
                            • Difficulty in advertising to seniors
                              • Reaching seniors with humor, in print, and online
                                • Seniors and gaming
                                  • Gaming for fitness
                                    • Seniors and the internet
                                      • Keeping in touch
                                        • Seniors and CE retailing
                                          • Phones for seniors
                                            • PCs for seniors
                                            • Inspire Insights

                                                • Staying Connected
                                                  • How it impacts the market
                                                    • Life as Science Fiction
                                                      • How it impacts the market
                                                        • Figure 1: Interest in robot technology, by age, February 2009
                                                    • Insights and Opportunities

                                                      • Two tiers of seniors with two sets of needs
                                                        • Emphasis on service, installation, education
                                                          • Technology as a generation bridge
                                                            • Large-screen TVs for seniors
                                                              • Health sites offer marketing opportunity
                                                                • Delicacy of tone in media efforts
                                                                  • Gearing up for a cell phone service battle
                                                                    • Multi-function health monitoring products
                                                                      • MP3 players for seniors
                                                                        • Marketing centers: Senior centers, retirement communities, and healthcare providers
                                                                          • Communications offer opportunities
                                                                            • MyFamilyBook
                                                                              • Digital photo frame subscription service
                                                                                • Video games for seniors
                                                                                  • Alzheimer’s-related opportunities
                                                                                    • Vision loss and technology
                                                                                    • Population Size and Gender

                                                                                      • Rapid increase in number of 65-74-year-olds
                                                                                        • Figure 2: Population by age, 2004-14
                                                                                      • Focusing on 65-74-year-olds
                                                                                        • Figure 3: Attitudes towards tech, by age, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                      • Gauging interest using penetration by age
                                                                                        • Music subscriptions and pre-loaded MP3 players
                                                                                          • Figure 4: Ownership of printers, digital cameras, and portable electronics, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                      • Tech and Gender

                                                                                        • Vastly more women than men in the senior population
                                                                                          • Figure 5: Senior population, by gender, 2004-14
                                                                                        • Male seniors more tech-oriented than female seniors
                                                                                          • Figure 6: Attitudes towards electronics among seniors, by gender, July 2007 to September 2008
                                                                                        • Marketing tech to senior women
                                                                                        • Household Composition

                                                                                          • Marital status
                                                                                            • Figure 7: Marital status, by age, 2008
                                                                                          • Games and gadgets keep seniors in touch with younger relatives
                                                                                            • Presence of children in senior homes
                                                                                              • Figure 8: Age of members in household, by age of householder, 2008
                                                                                            • Household size
                                                                                              • Figure 9: Household size, by age of members, 2008
                                                                                            • Socializing with consumer electronics in the living room
                                                                                              • Figure 10: Television ownership, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                            • The fears of adult children
                                                                                              • Figure 11: Worries about parents and other seniors, by age, February 2009
                                                                                          • Race/Hispanic Origin and Tech

                                                                                            • Senior population by race/Hispanic origin
                                                                                              • Figure 12: Senior population by race/Hispanic origin, 2004-14
                                                                                            • Asian seniors ahead of the curve
                                                                                              • Blacks run second
                                                                                                • Figure 13: Attitudes towards electronics among seniors, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                            • Seniors and Money

                                                                                              • Seniors in the workforce
                                                                                                • Figure 14: Number and percentage of people aged 55 or older who are in the labor force, 2004-14
                                                                                              • Finance matters
                                                                                                • Figure 15: Personal finances, by age, December 2008
                                                                                            • Reaching Seniors

                                                                                              • The television conundrum
                                                                                                • Figure 16: Attitudes towards television, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                • Figure 17: Attitudes towards television advertising, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                              • Seniors increasingly tuning out when commercials come on
                                                                                                • Figure 18: Generational change in muting television commercials, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                • Figure 19: Changing the channel during television commercials, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                              • Dedicated cable channels
                                                                                                • Retirement Living TV
                                                                                                  • TV Land
                                                                                                    • AmericanLife
                                                                                                      • Hallmark Channel
                                                                                                        • Not just for seniors
                                                                                                          • Figure 20: TV channels that appeal to seniors, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                        • Finding seniors online
                                                                                                          • Figure 21: Online gaming, travel planning, and financial planning, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                        • Four in 10 online seniors conduct health research online
                                                                                                          • Figure 22: Internet research for health information, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                        • Active adult housing and retirement communities populations rising
                                                                                                          • Hitting the right note
                                                                                                            • Figure 23: Attitudes towards tone in marketing and customer service, February 2009
                                                                                                          • Radio and print alive and well among seniors
                                                                                                            • Figure 24: Subscription to magazines for seniors, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                            • Figure 25: Attitudes towards newspapers, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                          • Humor is helpful
                                                                                                          • Seniors and Health

                                                                                                            • Physical deterioration associated with advanced age
                                                                                                                • Figure 26: Ailments suffered in last year, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                              • Interest in health monitors
                                                                                                                • Figure 27: Interest in health-related technology, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Wristwatch monitors
                                                                                                                • Figure 28: Interest in fitness products, by age, November 2008
                                                                                                              • Keeping an eye on seniors from afar: The GC COMO Box
                                                                                                                • Designing tech for the hearing- and vision-impaired
                                                                                                                • Seniors and the Internet

                                                                                                                  • Seniors are the fastest growing segment of internet users
                                                                                                                    • The youngest seniors are the most internet-friendly
                                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Attitudes towards the internet, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                  • Keeping in Touch

                                                                                                                    • Seven in 10 seniors have friends and family out of town
                                                                                                                      • Social networking for seniors
                                                                                                                        • Figure 30: Communication forms used in past month, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Xbox Video Conferencing
                                                                                                                        • Competing with free service
                                                                                                                          • Personalized television with GrandCare’s COMO System
                                                                                                                            • Figure 31: Friends and family far away, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                                          • Interest in newer communications technology
                                                                                                                            • Figure 32: Interest in new forms of technology, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                                        • Gaming for Fitness

                                                                                                                          • Strong interest in exercise and coordination games
                                                                                                                            • Figure 33: Worries and interests regarding health and games, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                                          • Console penetration among seniors can be doubled
                                                                                                                            • Figure 34: Video game ownership, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                          • Cardio-gaming
                                                                                                                            • Figure 35: Interest in fitness products, by age, November 2008
                                                                                                                          • Brain Fitness
                                                                                                                            • Preventing Alzheimer’s/dementia
                                                                                                                              • “Brain exercise” works
                                                                                                                                • Nintendo’s Brain Age
                                                                                                                                  • Other brain-strengthening providers
                                                                                                                                    • Dakim
                                                                                                                                      • Posit Science
                                                                                                                                        • One in eight over-55s worried about Alzheimer’s
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 36: Fears and experience with Alzheimer’s and dementia, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                                                        • Half of 18-44s state interest in brain fitness
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 37: Interest in brain fitness games, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                                                      • Advertising and Promotion

                                                                                                                                        • Overview
                                                                                                                                          • Print ads
                                                                                                                                            • Google advertising
                                                                                                                                              • Jitterbug television ads spot on
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 38: Jitterbug Wireless, 2007
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 39: Samsung Jitterbug, 2008
                                                                                                                                                • Listen Up aims at two markets
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 40: Listen Up, 2008
                                                                                                                                              • Seniors and CE Retailing

                                                                                                                                                • Emerging opportunities as Circuit City closes
                                                                                                                                                  • Use of electronics stores by seniors
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 41: Electronics stores shopped at in last three months, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                  • The new frontier: Customer support services
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 42: Worries and interests regarding health and games, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                  • Best Buy ahead of the curve in customer service
                                                                                                                                                    • Free shipping and in-store pickup
                                                                                                                                                      • Online presentation
                                                                                                                                                        • Increasing focus on research and value
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 43: Attitudes towards shopping for electronic equipment, by age, 2008
                                                                                                                                                      • Phones and Seniors

                                                                                                                                                        • Hearing loss affects one in three seniors
                                                                                                                                                          • Room for growth in cell phone service penetration
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 44: Cell phone penetration, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                          • Seniors snapping photos on cell phones
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 45: Cell phone services used, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                          • Products targeting seniors
                                                                                                                                                            • Clarity Life C900
                                                                                                                                                              • Jitterbug (Samsung)
                                                                                                                                                                • Knack (Samsung)
                                                                                                                                                                  • Pantech (AT&T)
                                                                                                                                                                    • UTStarcom (Verizon)
                                                                                                                                                                      • ClearSounds
                                                                                                                                                                      • PCs for Seniors

                                                                                                                                                                        • Vision loss (low vision) impacts use of PCs
                                                                                                                                                                          • Microsoft enabling use by seniors
                                                                                                                                                                            • MSN’s site for Boomers
                                                                                                                                                                              • Growth opportunities in PCs and webcams
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 46: PC and webcam ownership, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                                                                                                • Low-Techs
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Who they are
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hi-Techs
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Who they are
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 47: Seniors and technology clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Communications used by seniors in the past month, by clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 49: CE products and services of interest to seniors, by clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 50: Activities with which seniors have difficulty, by clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 51: Attitudes toward customer support, gaming for fitness, and finances, by clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Attitudes toward media, by clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 53: Seniors and technology clusters, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Seniors and technology clusters, by income group, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Seniors and technology clusters, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Custom Consumer

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Generational change vs. societal change
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Gathering information about electronics
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 56: Generational change in interest in gathering information about electronic equipment before purchase, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 57: Societal change in interest in gathering information about electronic equipment before purchase, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Computer-related confusion
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 58: Generational change in confusion about computers, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 59: Societal change in confusion about computers, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cell phone ownership
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 60: Generational change in ownership of cellular/wireless phones, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 61: Societal change in ownership of cellular/wireless phones, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Keeping up with technological developments
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 62: Trying to keep up with developments in technology, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008, in current ages
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 63: Trying to keep up with developments in technology, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Additional Consumer Tables

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Outdoor ads not the right choice for seniors
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Attitudes towards outdoor ads, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Attitudes toward mailing lists
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 65: Attitudes towards advertising in general, by age, October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Enjoyment of learning about technology
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 66: Enjoyment of learning about technology and the web, by age, January 2003-September 2003 and October 2007-December 2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix: Maladies Related to Aging

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • High blood pressure/hypertension
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • High cholesterol
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Osteoporosis
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Arthritis
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Arthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Rheumatoid Arthritis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Overactive bladder
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Appendix: Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • American Heart Association, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • AOL
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • AT&T Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Best Buy Co.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Consumer Electronics Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Fry's Electronics, Inc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Google, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Greenfield Online
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hewlett-Packard Company
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Microsoft USA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • National Institutes of Health
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Netflix, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Nike
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Samsung Electronics (USA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Skype Technologies S.A.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Sony Corporation of America
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • UTStarcom, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Weight Watchers International Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Yahoo! Inc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Seniors and Technology - US - April 2009

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