Most tech product marketers seem to aim for millennial or even younger customers, but the wearable segment is getting a big boost from older consumers.
EMarketer says Americans 55 and over are the fastest-growing group of wearable users.
In 2019,, 8.2 million older consumers will put on a wearable device -- most likely a smartwatch, or a version of one -- in large part because of the growing array of health-monitoring features available.
That’s a 15% increase in that age demo over the year before, and that increase is 6 percentage points higher than the predicted overall growth in the wearable market.
Apple, which marketed its first smartwatch in 2014, received FDA clearance for a trial fibrillation-detecting algorithm and electrocardiogram test that is now built into its Series 4 Apple watch, which went on sale in September.
It’s not the first to the market, but it is Apple, with its significant market position -- and its reputation with younger people.
“To date, the Apple Watch may have been of greatest interest to 40-year-old males,” reported the Aging in Place Technology Watch website in a story that then seemed to take a dim view of aging. “Interestingly, 70% of cases of atrial fibrillation are among the 65+ population. Does Apple really want the 65+ population to buy an Apple watch?”
Still, users 25-34 will make up 17% of the wearables market, with 35-44 year olds making up 9.3% so it’s not as if the market has turned completely grey.
By the end of 2019, eMarketer says 60.5 million Americans will be using wearable, up 9.2% over this year. At that rate, wearables will be used by over 20% of the total Internet-using market.
Wearables like smartwatches can give lots of information, or warnings, on a variety of health issues. Some can even relay information to caregivers or physicians, so they can act if they notice something is going wrong. That feature is possible because advances in smartwatches have added GPS tracking functions.
Parks Associates in May estimated that over 10% of the 65+ population will own a PERS -- for Personal Emergency Response System -- device by 2021, and that figure will jump to 15% for seniors 75 and over. By that year, more than 56 million Americans will be 65 and over.
That’s good growth, but still leaves a lot of elderly people who won’t be using wearables. Jennifer Kent, director of research quality and product development at Parks, earlier told Marketing Daily that the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” messaging made famous by Life Alert all the way back in 1987, has created a hard-to-shake stigma. As a result, many older people have a strong resistance to even the more subtle smartwatch versions.
Since they won’t buy it for themselves, that could make a smartwatch or PERS system a good gift for elderly parents or grandparents. But a Consumer Reports checklist of do’s and don’ts says well-meaning gift-givers shouldn’t pick a system without consulting first with the person who is going to get it.