Silver surfers represent a more important technology market than Generation X and Generation Y, according to new ‘maverick’ research from Gartner. Speaking at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo on the Gold Coast today, vice president and Gartner Fellow David Furlonger said that with an ageing population in many mature and emerging markets, technologists, designers and marketers must refocus to seize this crucial opportunity.
“In recent years, technology decision makers have focused their work largely on the perceived wants and needs of younger demographics. They have created and sold products targeted explicitly at an already-saturated market of financially poor “digital natives” in Generations X and Y,” Mr. Furlonger says. “This emphasis on the young is unsurprising, since many technologists are themselves part of these younger age groups. However, it is a very serious mistake, because it neglects the most promising technology market demographic of all: the affluent, increasingly technologically sophisticated older generation we are calling the ‘silver surfers’.”
The silver surfers take their name from the eponymous superhero introduced by Marvel Comics in 1966. They are now in middle age or approaching old age, and – although most technologists fail to recognize this fact – they are very interested in using technology and also have the time and the resources to pursue their interests, according to Gartner’s latest “Maverick” research.
Older individuals are increasingly active on social media. According to a research conducted by Australian mobile company Optus, more than three quarters (76 percent) of silver surfers in Australia use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, with grandparents using it as a tool to keep up with their grandchildren. The research found that social media connectivity enables older people to reconnect with people from their past whilst also enabling them to find support in times of poor health and chronic disease.
“The consumerization of technology has made it far more accessible, especially in terms of usability, to people who may find PCs more difficult to manage,” says Mr. Furlonger. “However, technology designers and manufacturers have largely ignored this huge and growing market, and by doing so, have neglected one of their most important sources of future growth and revenue. The younger market has only linear growth potential and decreasing purchasing power, while the silver surfers offer exponential growth opportunities and growing purchasing potential.”