4 Tips on Building Tech Products for Boomers

With senior-tech now a mainstay at the Consumer Electronics Show and spending such products is expected to more than double between 2013 and 2018, entrepreneurs need to ensure their technology addresses this market.

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By Jon Nielsen


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Each day 10,000 Americans turn 65. Despite the size of this market however, technology as a sector has been slow to address it. There's good reason to think that this is changing -- senior-tech is now a mainstay at the Consumer Electronics Show and spending on such products is expected to more than double between 2013 and 2018. If you're an entrepreneur who is looking to tap into that market, here are four things to keep in mind as you design and market your product to boomers.

Related: Marketing to Seniors: Online Versus Offline

1. Don't add too many features.

In many ways, the technical naiveté of noomers is overstated: Like all consumers they just want process that's going to be helpful, rewarding and easy. But they are also very different from younger users in a couple of key ways. According to multiple studies, boomers are far more motivated by necessity than novelty. This is why they are actually quite tech savvy when it comes to embracing new technology that helps them stay in better health or keep track of their finances. When it comes to social media however, they tend to be more conservative (30 percent of seniors use Facebook for instance, but are far less likely to be on newer networks like Instagram or Vine). Unnecessary product updates and features will ramp up the time it takes to educate your customers and make them less likely to share it with their friends.

2. Consolidate a process that is already complicated.

Emphasizing necessity over novelty is easiest when the focus is on consolidating a process that is already complicated. One of the reasons why Boomers were relatively quick to start using technology to keep track of their finances is because budgeting is an onerous and complicated process to begin with. Our own industry, estate sales, is similarly cumbersome with a lot of legwork aimed at an uncertain result. By focusing on the complicated, but necessary pain points in boomer's lives you will build them better products they will actually use.

Related: Why Leeza Gibbons Just Bought a Senior Care

3. Avoid jargon.

A lot of companies that come out of Silicon Valley use too much jargon (there's even an Urban Dictionary-like glossary to keep track of it all). This is one way to seem innovative, but it's also not a good way to sell a mass-market product. As previously stated, boomers aren't as captivated by novelty, so avoid jargon or industry terms whenever possible. Keep your website clean and make your navigation tools simple and easy to see. Lastly, this generation isn't used to resolving customer -ervice queries via email and Twitter. That's why it's particularly important to always make sure your website has a clear and easy-to-find phone number that will let them get in touch with a person.

4. Actually hire (or consult) real boomers.

IDEO isn't exactly a startup but their tech credentials are more than bona fide having designed the first mouse for Apple in the eighties. However they've lately gotten notice for having hired a 90-year old designer to consult on various projects. While that example might be extreme, there's no shortage of ways to solicit feedback on your product and to target that feedback toward various age groups. If you're working on products for boomers, actual boomers should work on it.

It's definitely true that early adopters, those who download the latest apps and buy the latest gadgets, skew young. But it's also true that boomers have more money, which is why they actually spend the most on new technology and have since 2010. By keeping your design simple, features minimal and emphasizing consolidation over novelty, you can greatly decrease your odds of missing out on this crucial demographic.

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Customer Service for Seniors

Jon Nielsen

Partner and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Everything But The House

Jon Nielsen is a partner and chief sales and marketing officer of Everything But The House (EBTH), an online estate and consignment sale company. Jon and his partners have more than doubled EBTH’s sales since 2012 and are positioning the company for rapid expansion. 


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