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January 19, 2009

Older Users Adapt to Some Technologies; Complexity Still an Issue

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Older users (50-somethings, 60-somethings and 70+) use some technologies at or near comparable rates as younger age segments, a new study by TNS (News - Alert) Compete and the Consumer Electronics Association finds. The similarities are easiest to understand. HDTV, search engine and Web site use for shopping information, for example, tend to be used at similar rates.



 
Behavior diverges more in usage of video game players, MP3 players and use of social networking sites.
 
Consumers in their 50s are as likely to own, or plan on buying, an HDTV as those under 50. Eighty percent of 60-somethings used a cell phone in the past week, nearly equal the usage rates of 18-34 year olds. Additionally, 71 percent of 60-somethings and 52 percent of 70-somethings used a search engine in the past week, compared to 77 percent of 18-34 year olds.
 
Not all technologies have comparable usage rates among age groups. Younger demographics are much more likely to play video games, use portable MP3 players and visit certain websites, and their usage rates of social networking sites nearly double the older age segments.
 
“In any environment, but particularly one with difficult market conditions, companies need to learn more about how to effectively reach this critical segment of older consumers,” said Elaine Warner, director, consumer technologies, TNS Compete.
 
Older consumers reported a higher level of frustration with the complexity of technology, though. Sixty percent of consumers aged 50 and older indicated that a product having too many features was a main reason for being frustrated with technology, compared to 39 percent of consumers aged 18-49.

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jessica Kostek







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