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Baby Boomers Embrace Consumer Technology

April 1, 2009 By Kumu Puri
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For the past two years, Accenture has been conducting in-depth research about the usage patterns of various types of consumer technology products and services among U.S. consumers.

The data below represents research completed in the winter of 2008/2009 and provides direct comparisons with last winter's 2007/2008 research data. The goal was to determine if there had been any changes in usage between Baby Boomers (age 45 and older) and Generation Y (ages 18 to 24).  The research uncovered several interesting trends:

* Baby Boomers are embracing consumer technology applications nearly 20 times faster than the younger generation.
* Generation Y's cravings for consumer technology applications are leveling off.
* Mobile handsets are not widely viewed as entertainment devices
* The connected home vision is not yet reality.

Generation Y people are consumer technology heavy lifters and, having been raised as the Internet generation, will be for years to come. Right? And older people are techno-phobic neophytes, minor players in this game. Right? Well, not exactly. Accenture's research found that boomers increased their uptake of popular consumer technology applications at an average of 50 percent last year, nearly 20 times faster than Generation Y. In fact:
 
* Boomers increased their rate of reading blogs and listening to podcasts by 67 percent year-over-year. That's nearly 80 times faster than Gen Y (1 percent);
* Boomers posted a 59 percent increase in use of social networking sites, more than 30 times faster than Gen Y (2 percent).
* Boomers increased watching/posting videos on the Internet by 35 percent,while Gen Y usage decreased slightly (-2 percent).
* Boomers accelerated playing video games on the go via mobile devices by 52 percent, 20 times faster than Gen Y (2 percent).
* Boomers growth rate in listening to music on an iPod or other portable music player was 49 percent, more than four times faster than Gen Y (12 percent).

These findings reveal that even though Gen Y consumers are early adopters and primary users of these applications, uptake is decelerating compared with boomers even for those applications that do not have significant usage. For example:

* Use of social networking stayed relatively flat at 80 percent of Gen Y, not surprising given high penetration.
* By contrast, reading blogs and listening to podcasts also stayed flat among Gen Y, but at a much lower usage rate of 45 percent.   
Faster growth among boomers is important because, on average, they have more disposable income to spend on consumer technology products and services than the younger generation. If these more financially endowed boomers continue to increase usage, it bodes well for the industry.

 

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