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Baby Boomers Emerge as Early Adopters

2 Jan, 2007 By: Jessica Wolf

Don't count those aging baby boomers out of the new-technology era.

A new study, “The Joy of Tech,” conducted by Latitude Research for Viacom-owned TV Land, found that the 78 million baby boomers in America are outpacing the 18-to-39-year-old segment by 53% when it comes to adopting new media technologies.

The boomer segment, which commands $2.3 trillion in annual consumer spending, is especially interested in building a “digital nest,” an entertainment hub for their personal enjoyment and for sharing with friends and family, according to the report.

At the center is the home theater. Baby boomers are more attached to their home theater and HDTV sets than any other segment, according to the report. TV programs are their No. 1 source of entertainment and they see the writing on the wall that high def is where TV is headed, according to the study.

The study also found that price is not as much a factor when it comes to new technology. Boomers are willing to spend more than the 18-39 category on products such as TiVo and DVRs in general — $88 per month compared to the younger generation's $64 per month on average.

Using the Internet to get TV programming is also very attractive to this segment. More than 80% of boomers watch trailers, sports and news clips online and 25% watch full-length TV shows and movies, according to the Joy of Tech study. More than half have high-speed Internet access.

Technologically savvy baby boomers can be segmented into five categories, according to the study:

“Mobile Enthusiasts” are the most technologically cutting edge and place high importance on portability, especially for their No. 1 source of entertainment, TV shows.

“The Cinema Experience” groups the boomers who are most attached to their home theater equipment, placing a higher value on clarity and quality than on technology that simplifies their lives. These boomers are the most likely to also subscribe to satellite radio and use wireless PDAs.

“American Idolaters” are most likely to watch competitive reality shows and place a high importance on technologies that offer interactive features. These are the most likely to watch full-length TV shows and movies on the Internet.

“The Family Time” group is most likely to have kids under 18 still living at home and this is the group that places the most importance on products that save time or simplify their lives. They're also most interested in sharing the entertainment experiences and are most likely to own a video game system.

“Simple Seekers” are not interested in technology for tech sake, but for what it can do for them. They watch the least amount of TV, but are the most attached to their Tivos and DVRs.

“The Joy of Tech study shows us that boomers are an underserved market as far as entertainment technology goes,” said Larry W. Jones, president of TV Land. “It's clear [they] love technology and embrace new media products.”

And, considering this segment has more money to spend than any other demographic, it's important for cable operators and consumer electronics manufacturers to not overlook the boomers, he said.

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