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Older Americans Embrace New Technology, Even If They Struggle To Admit It

The technology habits of America’s Baby Boomers have gained a lot of attention, but much of the literature focuses on what they do and not why they do it. The recent Pew Research 1 study confirmed that older Americans have warmly embraced the Internet, social networking and especially email. The insight missing, until now, is how companies should position themselves to attract this growing group to their products and services.

Research by Perion Network Ltd. (NASDAQ: PERI), a developer of software tailored for 40+ Second Wave Adopters (SWAs) of technology, shows that older Americans have a cautious approach to technology but they still embrace it. Rather than engaging with technology because it is new or exciting, they base their technology decisions on the practical impact it will have on their lives. Though 88.5% of the Americans over 45 surveyed consider themselves slow to adopt technology, 84.8% adopt a new technology when it fits their current lifestyle, 89% will use new technology if it’s better than what they use today, and 79.2% find technology fun and enjoy new gadgets. By comparison, Internet penetration in the US is only 78.3% according to the International Telecommunications Union. 2

The results from February 2012 focus on the 2,963 American respondents who are users of Perion’s IncrediMail email client and over 45 years of age. Thirty-seven percent of respondents were male and 14% were between 45 and 54 with the remainder over 55. Using a widely recognized classification question, 3 only 11% of respondents were classified as “Early Adopters,” leaving 89% as “Second Wave Adopters.”

The large sample size enabled the study to delve further into the sub-groups of older technology users and their psychological profiles than most previously published research studies.

Key to understanding the segment is the recognition that SWAs over 45 do not fear technology, but they need to be a little more convinced to use it than others. Surprisingly, 76% said that technology was fun; not a term usually associated with technology amongst SWAs.

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