Boomers Ahead On Tech Curve Where It Counts: Their Wallets


While Boomers are arguably less tech-savvy than younger consumers, they spend more money on technology, and on the Web, than any other age demographic. That's according to a new report from Forrester, which details tech adoption among American and Canadian consumers in the second quarter of the year.

"The one area where Boomers are ahead of the technology curve is on the amount of money they spend on everything from telecom monthly fees to online purchases," said Jacqueline Anderson, Forrester analyst and author of the report.

In fact, Boomers were the only generation to spend, on average, more than $600 online in the past three months. To boot, they spent an average of $850 on their last PC purchase, while every other generation spent less than $800.

Meanwhile, while Gen Yers -- ages 18 to 30 -- lead adoption of almost every online behavior, Gen Xers -- ages 31 to 40 -- are now a close rival. Indeed, Gen Xers use digital applications as a functional extension of their lives.



Boomers -- ages 45 to 65 -- and Seniors -- ages 66 and older -- are more reserved in their adoption of technologies and digital behaviors, but do in fact adopt technologies that play a role in pre-established behaviors.

Overall, Gen Yers and Gen Xers outpace Boomers and Seniors on almost every technology-related front.

"The headline is simple," said Anderson. "The technology curve continues, but there continues to be a generation gap."

Indeed, whether it's the 88% of Gen Yers who own a cell phone, or the 31% of Gen Xers reading ratings and reviews online, "these generations are setting the example of how future digitally native generations will live," Anderson added.

Gen Yers use digital channels to facilitate the social aspects of their lives, as almost two-thirds update or maintain a profile on a social networking site. Those on the younger end of the Gen Y age spectrum don't remember a social life without a mobile phone, at 88%, and certainly don't remember a time when they couldn't plan a social activity via email or text. Indeed, 90% of Gen Yers use email, and 85% of Gen Y mobile owners send or receive SMS texts at least monthly.

Gen Xers, meanwhile, are the masters of maximizing the functional benefits of technology. Both Gen Xers and Gen Yers spend about 17 hours online a week, but Gen Xers have mastered the art of using digital tools in a more functional manner, especially if it can help their household.

Among Gen Xers, 26% regularly use the Internet as an information source on food and cooking, and 61% use it for news. When it comes to their PCs, 65% of Gen Xers use them to manage personal photos, and 53% send or receive photos by email at least once a month.

Boomers remain middle of the road on technology adoption. Both Younger Boomers -- ages 45 to 54 -- and Older Boomers -- ages 55 to 65 -- fall behind the younger generations in terms of almost anything technology-related: from the number of devices they own (on average, seven for Boomers and nine for Gen Yers and Gen Xers) to the amount of time they spend on the Internet.

Finally, Seniors occupy the fringes of a digital nation, according to Forrester. These consumers have seen the biggest changes to the digital world around them. Seniors can remember a time when TVs weren't even a part of the household, and now more than 40% of these households have an HDTV.

While Seniors are still the most likely to get their local newspaper (80% do), about one in five turn to the Internet for news on business- and finance-related topics, and almost one-quarter use the Internet as a resource on travel. Technology adoption for Seniors isn't necessarily about adopting the latest and greatest gadget, but instead, finding ways to use technology to accent things they're already doing.

Overall, Forrester has seen digital technologies taking an increasingly pivotal role in consumers' lives. Even HDTVs, which just two years ago were a technology reserved for the wealthy and tech-savvy, now grace the walls of 50% of US households.

This year, Forrester used a generational lens to analyze the 30,064 US-based heads of household and 37,226 US-based individual respondents to its North American Technographics Benchmark Survey.

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