5 Tech Industries Working For Baby Boomers
In 2015, The University of Wisconsin’s Renee K. Bennett- Kapusniak published her dissertation titled, “Baby Boomers and Technology: Factors and Challenges in Utilizing Mobile Devices”. It exposes the intricate difficulties Baby Boomers are facing with technology. Small screens, ageism, general lack of confidence with new platforms were all common concerns explaining why those aged between 56 and 75 don’t feel quite comfortable with their hardware. It got me thinking, what startups and/or tech companies are solving these baby boomer challenges? Below is a list of five industries working to optimize Baby Boomers’ tech experience.
Baby Boomers are wealthy. They’ve accumulated wealth over their careers, and are still healthy enough to spend it. One article points out, “This group controls 70% of disposable income (U.S. News) and has been / will be increasing their spending by 58% over a two-decade period (VCR).” That means a lot of spending, but also a lot of financial services are needed. Everything from general financial services and planning, to estate and legacy preparation is important for the Baby Boomers. One can only imagine how incredibly enticing this sounds to Financial Technology (FinTech) startups. Companies like YoureFolio, Kindur, and Golden are a few of the many companies aiming to work with and help this wealthy age group. And these startups are adding to traditional financial institutions’ new technology branches. Deloitte reports, “Financial services are poised for transformative change; mega-corporations and startups alike are pouring money into fintech investments.” FinTech as a subcategory of technology, can almost be exclusively sold to this age group. Venture Capitalists, Entrepreneurs, and traditional financial companies are all prioritizing Baby Boomers with financial technology.
Safety is another important aspect for Baby Boomers’ lives. And not just physical safety in their homes, but also digital safety. Scamming the elderly is not a new business, but it’s becoming easier through our digital world. There are now more avenues to acquire sensitive information. And the means to acquire them are high-quality. Some criminals create fake bank websites, act like a CEO or supplier to the victim’s company, or simply send a very familiar looking email with hacker worms hidden inside. The good news is, there are now companies actively preventing these kinds of digital scams from happening. Firms like EverSafe are guarding bank accounts, credit cards, and data, specifically with aging parents in-mind. There are also nonprofits that give advice for Baby Boomers and their families. The National Cybersecurity Alliance has a Tip Sheet specifically for older adults. As our Boomers age, their Millennial kids will need to guide them through technology’s advancements and safety precautions. But we’re glad there are some companies already protecting the age group.
As medium reported, “Baby Boomers spend the most of any generation across all consumer goods categories, accounting for 49% of total annual CPG sales ($230 billion) and dominating 119 out of 123 CPG categories (Nielsen). And yet, Baby Boomers are targeted by just 5–10% of all marketing efforts (AARP)” In some respects, younger generations are more malleable in their brand loyalty and technology adaptation. So gaining younger audiences might seem like the “obvious” age market technology companies should target. Still, companies like Willow, ThinOptics, and even Fitbit are all optimizing B-to-C consumer products for Baby Boomers. Accenture data notes, “17% of Americans over the age of 65 use wearables to track fitness or vitals such as blood pressure or heart rate.” Baby Boomers are purchasing consumer products for themselves, their kids, and now their grandkids too. As one blogger wrote, “today’s grandmothers are active, affluent and very involved in their kids and grandkids lives.” One study found that grandparents today spend almost $200 Billion on their grandkids. So not only do consumer product companies need to design and manufacture for Baby Boomers, they also need to consider where today’s purchasing power is held. The age group’s discretionary income is proving to be a hotspot for hardware startups.
Technology made to boost and develop interpersonal relationships between Baby Boomers is increasing. Dating online, for example, is becoming more natural for the age group. “16% of online daters are over 50, according to IBISWorld.” And reason points to the fact that Baby Boomers are more likely to be single, divorced or widowed. Companies like OurTime.com and 50more.com are growing rapidly. In the past seven years, the percentage of Boomers dating online has doubled. And technology is also allowing this age group to accumulate friend groups, or reconnect with old acquaintances. A Statista survey found, “Facebook has become the social media platform of choice for older generations (78%), with YouTube in second place (67%) and Instagram in third (32%).” And I’m sure any reader here was excited to find an old neighbor or friend via social media platforms. Technology is noticing. DoorDash and InstaCart are both focusing on Baby Boomers by-way of enhancing customer service, safety, and convenience. These online platforms are catching up, they are making it a priority to make Boomers a priority.
Last and not least, Baby Boomer health is a major pillar for technology. Everything from making sure there are healthy neighbors to fix or assist in everyday home upkeep, to preparing for later-life healthcare. Umbrella is a startup that connects helpful neighbors to aging home owners. They allow yard work, bursted pipes, or even home cleaning tasks to be completed by a safe, vetted, reliable community member. Forbes recently wrote about the relationship between aging Boomers and adaptation with technology, “Boomers are in favor of digital health and are interested in using technology to facilitate reminders, after-hours visits, daily support, classes and appointment follow-ups.” Of the 70 million Me Generation members, Boomers are adapting to technology becoming apart of not just their daily lives, but the long-term livelihood. Advances in radiology, pharmaceuticals, pathology, or almost any division of healthcare will elongate the health of the Boomers. But their adaptation and early adoption will be what’s most important.