Baby Boomers and Technology = Untapped

With all the talk of doom and gloom on the global economy in the media everyday, I bought this interesting book “THE GREAT CRASH AHEAD” BY Harry S. Dent Jr. at the airport lounge on my last trip to Bangkok. He predicted the 2009 crash, so I figured I might pick up some fresh insights from him  🙂

The Great Crash

One of the key insights I have from the book is his view on the US economy and the consumer trends driven by the baby boomer generation.

A baby boomer is a person who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom between the years 1946 and 1964. They are called the baby boomer generation because of the huge population spike after World War Two.

Baby boomers represent a significant percentage of most country’s population. In the US, for instance, baby boomers represent 25% of the population, which is a huge representation of the overall population. Closer to home, in Singapore, baby boomers are approximately 10% of the population.

As a generation, they are the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation. They were also the generation that received peak levels of income, therefore they could afford  the benefits of abundant levels of food, apparel, lifestyle and “midlife crisis” products and services and as a result, they drive the economy.

The US government has been flooding the market with low interest rates and printing trillions of USD to create confidence and to boost consumer spending. The biggest barrier to reviving their economy via consumerism is dependent the baby boomers’ spending habits and needs going forward, who are now between 48 years old and 66 years old and are preparing for retirement. Their kids are working adults, moving out or moved out of the family home. As a result, there is no need for a bigger home, no need for a 7 seater  people mover automobile, no need for bigger fridge, Xbox….etc. From what I have seen of baby boomers, they will spend on things that they need, regardless of the confidence of the economy, whether unemployment is up or down.

As I try to get into the baby boomers mindset, I look at my parents as an example. They are in their 60’s and are in retirement. They think of saving their money for healthcare emergencies (which hopefully they don’t need), only buying things that they need to make their lives more comfortable and enjoyable. Holidays and travel are big on the spending list. Interesting thing about my folks, although they are suspicious of technology (no to internet banking and online stock trading or purchasing anything online for that matter) they still want to be perceived as “cool”and relevant with constant upgrades to the latest smartphones. They have only a handful of apps on their smart phones – some game apps to entertain the grandkids while baby sitting and the all-important lottery app that display the latest winning numbers.

Technology can tap into the baby boomer generation if there is a genuine need and if the interface is friendly with simple straight forward processes and assurance of security.

I was recently made aware of an initiative/event in Singapore. Code::XtremeApps:: 2012 Programming Competition, the aim of the 24 hour “hackathon” was to create innovative ways to improve the standard of living for the silver generation.

The Grand Prize winners, formed by three students from Singapore Management University, impressed the judges with a web-based and mobile application called “Speechify”. It is a multi-language translator designed especially to breakdown the communication barriers between the elderly and foreign domestic workers. This enables foreign domestic workers – one of the de facto modes of care for the elderly in Singapore – to assist and communicate easily with the elderly in their daily lives. Another winning team came up with an application that not only stores and displays both contact and medical information for the elderly and sends them daily reminders, but also triggers a notification, which is sent to an emergency contact in times of trouble. All good stuff !

I am also of the opinion that the likes of Apple and Samsung can sell a lot more of their products to the baby boomers if the “geniuses” they have at the store to demonstrate the products are not some pimply young punk know-it-alls but spunky patient silver baby boomers that speaks the same language as them. I saw an example of that in one of my trips to Tokyo but have not seen it anywhere else in Asia.

A Silver Genius in Tokyo

A Silver Genius in Tokyo

As part of the Gen X demographic, I am eagerly watching developments in this space, won’t be too long before I join the silver team!

Photos courtesy from my iPhone

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