Not quite a household term, yet, the Internet of Things among the consumer electronics industry continues to elicit breathless economic predictions and promises of life-altering technologies. Estimates put IoT at 50 billion connected devices to the tune of over $7 trillion in revenue by 2020. Phones and cars already talk back, wristwatches monitor and record our activity, and the recently released Amazon Echo speaker is bringing the helpful home robot one step closer to reality.
Putting industrial automation and farming aside (cows are just as kitted with wearable tech as people), it stands to reason affluent Boomers will be the cornerstone of IoT adoption. They have more square footage, well appointed homes, and are often working from home or retired and aging in place. They consume a lot media and enjoy well designed products.
Smartphone, social media and online shopping numbers show that Boomers lag behind in adoption but catch up quickly. As usability becomes intuitive, boomers sign on. The tech boomers love, and love to hate provides marketers with a pathway to IoT adoption. The former: iPhones and iPads. The latter: the pile of remote controls found on most coffee tables. Products that will resonate with the 55+ crowd at this stage of the game will be easy to set up, easy to use, and easy on the eyes.
They have the disposable income to enhance their homes with connected devices. Think about the popular and relatively inexpensive Nest thermostat or our Awox WiFi musical bulbs. It makes sense for people with bigger homes. And those big ticket networked refrigerators are the perfect item for an affluent foodies who enjoy cooking and entertaining.
And that gorgeous piece of art in their hands, the smartphone, is not only the remote control for the IoT, it’s also the marketers’ gateway for presenting new ideas to connected consumers.
Boomers initially resisted the mobile Internet revolution brought on by the iPhone just seven years ago, are now catching up and they’re catching up fast. There’s no reason to believe their voracious online shopping habits won’t soon make the leap to the small screen with smoother payment services and apps that connect consumer preferences and behavior with physical shopping environments. In other words, the small screen is rapidly becoming the “first screen.”
Bring intuitive, beautiful products that delight and entertain boomers at home and they will use them.