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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.