Commentary

Smart Boomers, Smart Speakers, Smart Marketing

Let's face it: Baby boomers aren’t usually described as "tech-savvy." But they are adopting one gadget at such a high rate that marketers should take notice. 

The trend of the "smart speaker" in the home, which controls everything from temperature to lights to shopping lists, has found a way to resonate with boomers and seniors. Some estimates state that there are more than 8 million baby boomers in the United States who use a smart speaker, representing a nearly 30% increase year-over-year.

At first glance, this statistic may seem impressive, but it also alludes to an underlying trend in our culture. For a piece of technology to become accepted and a part of society, it needs to be embraced by diverse demographics. The graveyard of gadgets and technologies that failed to do this is quite full: Google Glass, Windows Phone, the Segway and more.

At first, there was a very real fear that smart speakers would be just another fad technology — and perhaps they started out that way. But when boomers and seniors who were experiencing issues with sight, touch and mobility realized that they could control their environment with sound, the game changed.

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Now, smart and cutting-edge marketers are trying to adapt this technology to appeal to a boomer and senior market embracing the power of sound. Current estimates show that about 15% of all smart speakers currently in use are primarily operated by someone over 53, but at an adoption rate of nearly 30%t, that number is set to skyrocket over the next three to five years, especially as the abilities of these devices grow.

People who own smart speakers generally aren't poor, either; the average owner makes more than $75,000 per year. For individuals looking to tap into the lucrative Boomer and senior market, this is a no-brainer! Marketers who can leverage these devices now — while adoption is strong, competition is weak, and the demographics are favorable — stand to make major gains.

It's important to understand that active users of these devices, including boomers and seniors, don't just view them as another gadget.

Sara Kleinberg, in an article for Think with Google, noted that many users describe their smart speakers in ways usually reserved for personal relationships.

Really, it comes down to empowerment: By having such a device in their home, boomers and seniors can maintain a level of independence because they have this personal assistant available to them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The next big thing in this space is most certainly going to be improved voice search. According to Verto Analytics, the average smart speaker owner interacted with his or her device around three times per day. Compare this to smartphone users, who only use their digital voice assistant around once every three days.

Now, let's couple this insight with the probable location of a smart speaker: the living room, the bedroom or the kitchen. How can we leverage this knowledge to anticipate user behavior? If I were working for a food & beverage or household products brand, I would be exploring smart speakers intently. How can I utilize someone's probable kitchen behaviors, such as cooking and cleaning, to promote my product?

"Alexa, how do I remove a wine stain?"

"Home remedies to remove a wine stain include water, vinegar and liquid soap. Alternately, Grandma's Secret Spot Remover also removes wine stains. Would you like me to order this product for you?"

It's an amazing opportunity for brands to insert themselves nimbly into the voice search space, where people are looking for answers and recommendations in real time.

The most basic premise of marketing is to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. You need to know whom you’re marketing to, what motivates them to make a purchasing decision, and how to be top of mind when that purchasing decision is made.

Marketing with smart speakers puts all of these abilities into one package: you know the age of the owner, you know what kind of product he or she is searching for, and you can influence a purchasing decision because he or she has asked for the information directly.

If you're not looking at ways to adapt to smart speaker technology, prepare to be left behind.


Sources:
https://www.emarketer.com/content/the-smart-speaker-series-baby-boomers-infographic
https://econsultancy.com/the-state-of-smart-speaker-voice-search-in-2018/
https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/three-ways-voice-assistance-resonating-baby-boomers/

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