Women Are Buying Mobile Devices For Themselves, Their Adult Kids, Their Parents, Their Grandchildren ...

by , Jan 14, 2013, 6:54 AM
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If you were one of the 150,000 people who found themselves at this year's CES (the annual consumer electronics show), you probably didn’t see too many women aged 45-60 among the industry leaders, Gen X salespeople, or Millennial geeks who filled Las Vegas last week. 

But attendance at tech trade shows hardly tells the whole story. The fact is, women aged 45-60 are important consumer tech customers. In 2012, this vibrant woman not only bought more new mobile and web-enabled devices than ever before; she bought them for everyone else in her family as well. 

This and other insights from a recent survey we conducted suggest that these women may be the secret weapon the consumer electronics industry needs. 

Spending Money to Stay Connected for Work, Travel and Family

Only a few years ago, people were still asking me if women over 45 actually used their cell phone for anything other than calling roadside assistance, and the folks who invented the Jitterbug phone thought that younger Boomers would be their growth market.

At a time when over 50% of all Americans own a smartphone, this vibrant woman is not letting her aging cell phone gather any dust. In fact, she has already purchased and upgraded more mobile devices than any other generation. 

In our survey, 67% of respondents told us that they had purchased a new smartphone in the last 12 months.

Another 55% of these active empty-nesters bought a new iPad, tablet computer or e-reader in 2012, too.

These younger Boomer women make up several overlapping segments, all of whom view mobile devices as essential tools for living:

  • Active Empty-Nesters, with enough disposable income to spend on their own toys and on the travel itineraries that keep them (and their devices) mobile.

  • Midlife Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders whose work life requires them to be on-the-move and always connected.

  • Multi-generational Caregivers who often need to keep track of four generations of their own families at all times.

Most women over 45 fit more than one of these profiles, of course, and smartphones don't just allow members of each segment to meet that segment’s needs; smartphones allow them to bridge the gaps between all of the segments they find themselves in, and to do a better job as a concerned daughter, professional colleague, curious grandmother, and avid reader—all in the same day. No wonder these women are buying more mobile devices than anyone else!

The Multi-Generational Checkbook

As most of us know, once you come to appreciate the benefits of mobile devices, you often come to think that everyone else should have them. And once you find yourself addicted to mobile devices, you need everyone you care about to have them, too. Having owned and repeatedly upgraded their own smartphones and tablets, these vibrant women are no exception, especially with respect to their families:

  • Moms with Adult Kids. The mother of adult children is making all kinds of investments in the lives of that underemployed and under-resourced generation.  25% of our survey respondents reported that they had bought a smartphone or tablet computer for an adult child (or adult children) in 2012.

  • Multi-generational Caregivers. Boomer women didn't buy mobile devices only for their children. 8% told us that they had bought a tablet computer for a grandchild in 2012. And 8% also bought a tablet or other computer or smartphone for a parent as well.

The Spoke in a Very Big Wheel

We have done many surveys on vibrant women over 45. But no other survey has shown as clearly how this woman's role—in the middle of so many relationships, professional, familial, and personal, to say nothing of her own desire to spend money to enjoy her own life—has made her the ideal consumer for an entire industry.

If you did find yourself at CES last week, or the next time you find yourself at an Apple Store, a Best Buy, or a mobile outlet (Verizon is the vibrant woman’s preferred carrier, in case you were wondering), ask yourself whether the industry is doing everything it can to maximize its business with this woman. And let us know what you think.

3 comments on "Women Are Buying Mobile Devices For Themselves, Their Adult Kids, Their Parents, Their Grandchildren ...".

  1. Joseph Shebroe from NA
    commented on: January 14, 2013 at 11:16 p.m.
    This is a really great article. The question at the end about whether the industry is doing everything it can to maximize its business with women is a good one. To that end, I wanted to share a new product called Pipsqueak... It's the world's first Bluetooth phone for kids. It can be found at YipYap.com. This is a cool new device mom's can buy for their little ones that is safe, controlled, and fun!
  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited
    commented on: January 20, 2013 at 1:23 p.m.
    Smartphones are also eating up disposable income at alarming rates. With the average income $50,000 gross annually per household...per household, not per person.... and so very many so very much less, people have no savings, have serious dental problems which effects the rest of their costly health issues, live from paycheck to paycheck, food challenged, and more are spending 10% or more on smart phone monthly contracts. All of that will cost us all more as more boomers retire and have nothing saved. As wonderful and important as the phones are, we have a problem Houston.
  3. Sid Raisch from Advantage Development System
    commented on: January 22, 2013 at 3:20 p.m.
    This is a strong sign of crossing the line to rapid adoption of mobile technologies (apps of all sorts). Mobile is going mainstream!

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