If your idea – or your organization’s idea – of seniors is a baffled, wizened old geezer staring blankly at a digital device, your idea is wildly out of date. Research has shown that as a group, seniors are quite tech savvy and they use and depend on technology on a daily basis.
According to the Pew Research Center, not only are about four-fifths of people in the US age 55+ online, those who are 65 have lived with technology advances first-hand for most of their adult lives. The first internet browser was introduced in 1992 when they were 36 years old and they were 42 when Google made its debut.
Research from Google and market research firm Known found that the majority of online seniors (86%) – known as “digital seniors” - are online for 6+ hours/day and own an average of five devices. Among this group, 80% have an education level beyond high school and 82% are daily users of smartphones.
This group considers being online an integral part of their lives, not just a pastime or diversion. They are open to the new possibilities that digital can bring to them. Some reasons these seniors go online are:
- Staying in touch with family and friends (91%)
- Financial organization (87%)
- Health and wellness improvement (73%)
And while COVID greatly increased digital usage among seniors, as well as all age groups, they say they’ll continue to spend about the same amount of time online even when pandemic concerns have passed.
Seniors are using – and liking – telehealth and virtual visits. They are finding useful health information that pertains to them and their particular health concerns.
One interesting effect of seniors using digital information sources: Marketers who market to this age group have had to adjust their marketing channels, moving away from an emphasis on TV and print ads to digital channels. Health insurance provider Aetna has seen its Medicare customers become more digitally savvy, so they are investing more in digital channels to reach seniors.
What does all this mean for marketers who target older groups?
- Use data and factual insights to understand older consumers, rather than dated assumptions.
- Meet your audience where they are. For example, seniors use YouTube a lot, so marketers should take that into consideration.
- By using intent signal data available from YouTube, you can better prioritize high-value targets.