Category Archives: Demographics & Econographics

Online and Offline seniors – Hidden in Plain Sight

Online and offline seniors – hidden in plain sight

The number of actively connected seniors continues to rise, even while their connection rate has stalled. Also, seniors are very active with their connected devices, from PCs to Tablets and Smartphones.

There are more American seniors online than ever before. This is primarily due to two factors – rapid mobile phone adoption and the growing number of seniors in the U.S. Population. Based on our Technology User Profile (TUP) 2017 survey, nearly 44 million adults age 62 and older actively using a PC, Tablet, Mobile Phone, or Game Console to connect to the Internet.

A market segment often overlooked or derided by the tech industry, seniors have been increasingly embracing technology, weaving it into the fabric of their lives.

Mobile phones are hot among older adults, especially Smartphones. Tablet and Smartphone usage has soared among Americans age 62 and above, rising 49% and 47% per year, respectively, between 2013 to 2017. In 2013, the number of active Tablet users age 62 and over was under 4 million, and in 2017 that number is 19.1 million seniors. Similarly, Smartphone use has grown from less than 6 million adults age 62 and over in 2013 to 26.8 million in 2017.

Notebook PC use has also grown, while overall PC use has remained essentially flat. Mobile PC use has grown 20.4% per year from 2013 to 2017. Use of at least one PC has increased 1.8% per year from 2013 to 2017.

Getting connected has outpaced population growth. Only a small part of these growth rates is due to the growing population of seniors. The US Census projected that the number of Americans age 65 and above grew 3.3% per year from 2013 to 2016. During this same period, the number of Connected Adults age 65 and above grew 5.6% per year. The current number of 43.4 million adults regularly using an Internet-connected PC, Tablet, Mobile Phone, or Game Console is up from 35.7 million in 2013. In other words, one in five (20%) Connected Adults in the US are age 62 and above.

The rapid growth of Smartphone use among seniors is due in part to the many of these adults who have given up their old data-free basic cell phones. However, that’s not the entire story. Overall mobile phone adoption has grown. Between 2013 to 2017, mobile phones are in the hands of 20.5 million more adults age 62 or above.

Not to be underestimated

Seniors are big tech spenders. The average annual household technology spending by adults 62 and older is $6.6k. Among slightly older adults 65 and older, the average is slightly less at $6.5k per year for all technology devices and services. Like their younger counterparts, the majority of tech spending by older adults is for services, from cable TV and smartphone service to Internet connections.

More than healthcare

Often seniors are overlooked with the uninformed belief that they are not active with their connected devices, or only focused on healthcare. Although not as active as younger connected adults, seniors are busy with their connected devices.

More than 50% of connected adults age 62 and older around the world use their primary connected device for nearly every type of activity: from Communication, Shopping, Information & Search, and Personal/Productivity, to Entertainment. One reason that seniors may be thought to be less active is their relatively lower presence on Social Networks, making them less visible. This is based on our Technology User Profile 2017 survey across five countries (US, Germany, India, UK, and China). In China and India, connected seniors 62 and older.

Searching online for healthcare information is a major activity for half of seniors using their primary connected device, although it’s the fifth-ranked activity. Even more widespread are activities such as shopping, staying in touch, on top of finances, and current events.

Looking ahead

I expect connected seniors to continue to expand their use of their technology, while unconnected seniors will remain unconnected. Those already connected will follow the path of younger adults and these senior’s younger selves, finding evermore ways to enjoy and utilize each type of technology they’ve adopted. Among  unconnected seniors, the flattened connection rates isn’t likely to spike soon with the current approaches. Although many organizations from retailers to hospitals are nearly demanding that all their clients all interact online, force isn’t working. Unconnected adults are not being served, or organizations are needing to rely on connecting through traditional methods: postal mail, landline phones, and personal visits. Senior non-users are unlikely to respond to the benefits that attracted younger adults online in the first place. Instead, new approaches are needed.

In the meantime, don’t be surprised to see more active seniors toting Smartphones and Tablets.


The information in this TUPdate is based on the most recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP) – the TUP 2017 wave into the US, UK, Germany, India, and China. Current TUP subscribers can tap into these and additional similar results about seniors and younger adults. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.


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Filed under Behaviors and Activities, Consumer research, Demographics & Econographics, Market Segmentation, Smartphones, Statistics, Tablets, Trends, TUP 2015, TUP 2016, TUP 2017, TUPdate

Tech Employees Are Youngest

Dan Ness, Principal Analyst

Employees in technology roles or industries are strikingly younger than employees in other US employment roles and industries.

tech employees by age 180110_1350

As released in our most recent wave of Technology User Profile – TUP 2017 US – our research shows that employees in either technology-focused roles or in technology-oriented industries are much younger than the average American employee. Also, those employed in both technology roles and technology industries are youngest of all.

Just over half (51%) of employees in tech roles within a tech industry are age 25-34, the highest concentration of younger adults, with a median age of 34. Employees in tech industry with non-tech roles also have a high concentration of younger adults, with 39% being age 25-34 and median age of 35. By comparison, those in a tech role in a non-tech industry have the highest concentration of employees age 35-44, making up 35% of employees, with a median age of 36. Outside of tech roles or industries, age 25-34 only make up 25% of employees, with a median age of 39.

For purposes of this analysis, we categorized tech roles as those in IT/IS (Information Technology/Information Systems), Specialist, or Contractor/IT Consultant. Tech industries include Information (Publishing, Telecommunication), and Professional, Technical, and Scientific Services.


The information in this MetaFAQ is based on the most recent wave of Technology User Profile (TUP) – the TUP 2017 waves into the US. Current TUP subscribers can tap into these and additional similar results about adults in the UK, Germany, China, and India. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Demographics & Econographics, Market Research, MetaFAQs, TUP 2017

Every Step You Take – Smartphone Step-Trackers (TUPdate)

Every Step You Take – Smartphone Step-Trackers – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, March 24, 2017

Baby steps count, as long as they’re in the right direction.  Digital health promises positive outcomes for a wide range of people. However, like gym memberships and home treadmills, they don’t do much unless people use them. A first step for many is to use what’s handy. Most Smartphones can track a user’s steps, and many are being used for that purpose, although use isn’t as widespread as Fitness Trackers or Smartwatches.

Phone Home or Walk Home?

Using one’s Smartphone to track steps is a regular activity for 25 million, or 1 in 9, US adults. There are other ways to track one’s health. Electronics activity trackers, such as the FitBit, are being actively used by 39.6 million, or 18% of US adults.
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Filed under Demographics & Econographics, Fitness Trackers, Market Research, Personal and Productivity, Smartphones, Smartwatches, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Usage Patterns

Are most hearables being used by young males? (MetaFAQs)

Wireless headsets have been available for more than a decade, and are strongest among two age and gender groups. These hearables-active groups are also have above-average shares of VR Headset early adopters.metafacts-metafaqs-mq0100-120drxhear-2017-02-13_08-31-37

The strongest segments for active hearables use include younger males – age 18-44 and youngish females – age 25-34. Penetration is above one in four among males 25-34 (27%) and among males age 35-44 (26%). Among females, hearables usage peaks among females age 25-34, at 15%.

Looking ahead, we expect these same age & gender groups to continue as the strongest users of hearables, and don’t expect other segments to be as keen on hearables.

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Filed under Communication, Demographics & Econographics, Entertainment, Forward-Leaning, MetaFAQs, Mobile Phones, Smartphones, TUP 2016, Usage Patterns, Video calling

Life Stages and Technology Adoption – TUPdate

Life Stage and Technology Adoption – a TUPdate by Dan Ness, December 16, 2016

The stages of life – although many take different paths – are a useful component of understanding technology users. Pivotal life events shape us – forming a family or empty-nesting, passing key birthdays, or joining or leaving from the workforce.
Kids matter – in many ways, and very much so when it comes to understanding technology spending, usage, adoption, and the future of tech. Simply knowing whether children are present or not provides a lot of explanatory power for a technology user’s profile.metafacts-tup-life-stage-factors-2016-12-16_11-17-07

Presence of children is one of three factors that make up life stage analysis, with the other two being age and employment status.
Within the TUP study, MetaFacts determines life stage by creating eight mutually-exclusive groups, each formed by two values of three components. We grouped respondent’s ages into 18-39 (“younger”) and 40 and above (“older”), and presence of children into present or not present. Being employed in the workforce includes any working full-time, part-time, or self-employed. Those not employed outside the home include students, the retired, homemakers, seasonally unemployed and temporarily unemployed.
Life stage analysis is a useful and productive way to quickly sift through mountains of sociodemographics. These three factors, although not exhaustive, provide strong definitional power with respect to predicting and profiling technology acquisition and usage.

Tech Spending by Life Stage

The biggest tech spenders are those adults within the life stage group: younger, employed, and with children. Adults age 18-38 who have kids and are actively employed full-time, part-time, or self-employed spend 66% more on tech devices and services in a year than the average adult. The second-biggest life stage group in tech spending also have kids and are employed, although are age 40 and up. This group’s tech spend is 16% higher than the national average.metafacts-td161215-life-stage-tech-spend-index-2016-12-15_11-48-59
At the other end of the spectrum, with the lowest tech spending levels, are adults age 40+, not employed, and without kids. Their index of 67 reflects their tech spending levels 33% below the national average for connected adults. All of the life stage groups without children spend below the national average for tech devices and services. Also, adults who are not employed outside the home spend less than the average connected adult on tech.

Consumer Electronics and Life Stage

Life stage analysis reveals both laggards and early adopters of many leading technology products. The connected home appears to be doing well – although only among one life stage segment. Employed adults age 18-39 with children stand heads and shoulders above all other segments in market penetration. From smart locks to video doorbells, this group’s usage is significantly stronger than other life stage groups. This group is also clearly strongest in the use of certain other consumer electronics products – golf swing analyzers, GoPro-type headcams, and to further feather the nest, home projectors. Relative penetration of this last item is not quite as different, reflecting in part the higher price of home projectors compared to these other devices, and that they have been available for more years than the other devices.metafacts-td161215-life-stage-consumer-electronics-2016-12-15_14-30-47

One consumer electronic product has reached entirely different life stage segments – the venerable record player. Although turntables and vinyl albums have enjoyed some resurgence following their near-extinction, current usage is primarily among adults age 40 and up, and less so among younger adults. In addition to nostalgic ties and musical memories, these listeners also are more likely to have old LPs.

Life Stage Penetration of Key Tech Devices

Life stage analysis also reveals differences in the use of many key computing and printing devices. The notebook penetration rate among adults employed 18-39 with kids is double that of adults not employed 40+ without kids. There’s an even stronger difference for use of a second PC, with Employed 18-39 with kids having triple the penetration rate of not employed 40+ without kids. And, with nearly a quintuple rate difference, use of game consoles among not employed adults age 18-39 with kids is two-thirds (66%), 4.8 times higher than the 14% rate among not employed 40+ without children.metafacts-td161215-life-stage-key-devices-2016-12-15_14-30-47

Number of Devices by OS

Windows dominates computing devices, as it has for decades. Among all life stage groups, the average number of devices is highest for Windows devices. Apple and Google Android/Chrome devices are gaining in the average number in active use. Among adults 18-39 not employed, there is no difference between Windows and Apple in the number of each OS in active use.
Apple ranks second among all life stage segments except one – 40+, Not employed with Kids. Although the difference is small, this reflects the lower penetration Apple devices have among older adults.metafacts-td161215-key-devices-by-os-2016-12-16_08-03-24

Looking Ahead

Life stage analysis reveals important market segments, especially to separate laggards from early adopters of the newest technology. This approach also helps in predicting future adoption. As technology users navigate their own life courses and transitions. Although it isn’t true that parents leave a maternity ward with additional tech devices, it’s typically not too long that tech accumulation begins.

About this TUPdate

This TUPdate includes a complimentary brief summary of recent MetaFacts TUP (Technology User Profile) research results. These results are based on the most-recent results of the MetaFacts Technology User Profile 2016 survey, its 34th wave, with 7,334 respondents (US). For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.


Current TUP subscribers can tap into any of the following TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. This TUPdate is based on the TUP Life Stage section, which is within the TUP 2016 User Profile Chapter.

Supporting MetaFAQs

  • mq0137 – What is the penetration of home-owned computing devices? – [250 DEV_KEYxLIFE]
  • mq0257 – Which Life Stage segment spends the most on tech devices and services? – [790 SPENDxLIFE]
  • mq0215 – Which Life Stage segment use VR Headsets the most? – [480 CExLIFE]
  • mq0275 – Which Life Stage segments have the highest share of Windows, Apple, and Google OS devices? – [270 DEVxLIFE]
  • mq0594 – Which Life Stage group has the highest usage of Notebook PCs? – [250 DEV_KEYxLIFE]
  • mq0610 – Which Life Stage group has the highest usage of e-Book Readers? – [250 DEV_KEYxLIFE]

Related MetaFAQs

  • mq0091 – What is the percent of Home PC users that use printers? – [250 DEV_KEYxLIFE]
  • mq0237 – What is the average number of Home Tablets being used? – [490 UNITSxLIFE]
  • mq0236 – What is the average number of Home PCs being used? – [490 UNITSxLIFE]
  • mq0150 – Are many users using remote printing services? Are these using their Internet-ready printers or online printing services? Which segments are using remote printing as a substitute for home printing, and which as an additional way to print? – [590 ACT_IMGxLIFE]
  • mq0540 – How are TV and movie device usage levels different across Life Stage segments? – [480 CExLIFE]
  • mq0213 – How does the penetration of OS Ecosystems vary by device type? – [250 DEV_KEYxDEV_ECO]

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Filed under Consumer research, Demographics & Econographics, e-Book Readers, Entertainment, Notebooks, Printers, TUP 2016, TUPdate, Usage Patterns