My mum is scared of technology. Clammy hands terrified. To the point where she gets a rash when we talk to her about getting a new computer. Anyone would think I was proposing she install a gargoyle with snakes for hair as the new centrepiece in the front room. When all I want to do is upgrade her noisy, chunky and ugly computer with a new quiet and slim-line ASUS or Dell PC. In other words, swap her outsized, outmoded monstrosity with a sleek addition that is more of an architectural fitting than an eyesore.
Years of trying to bring my mum, kicking and screaming, into something vaguely resembling the modern era has meant that I thought all older women were intimidated by technology. I had assumed it was a ‘generational’ thing, and had written off the idea of getting her to be excited by technology as a lost cause. And that’s before we get onto the stress of having to step into the role of IT support if she ever did “upgrade” from Windows 98. I could picture the scene: I am in a business meeting and my mum calls to explain that she has ‘lost’ the gmail icon or was innocently browsing the Internet when she inadvertently “stumbled on” a porn site.
However, the latest research I have done with YouGov proved me utterly wrong. There is a group of women over 55+ who are becoming liberated by technology and not just using their phones for texting and calling. When it comes to downloading apps on their smart–phones, one in five women stated that their favourite app was a gaming app. This compares to one in fifteen men in the same age band.
These older women are ‘snacking’ on games such as Bejeweled, Scrabble and Solitaire, and when they aren’t gaming, they are updating their Facebook status and sharing photos of their new grandchildren with friends. 39% of women over 55+ have downloaded one or more app on their smart-phone. This trend is similar in the US. Facebook’s own statistics show that there are almost twice as many women over 55 on Facebook as there are men of the same age. Perhaps most surprising of all, there are now more women over 55 on Facebook than there are teenagers. (Source: Inside Facebook Feb 2009)
Yet despite these stats, the industry is guilty of writing off this huge potential section of the market. In all my years in tech advertising, not once did a creative director or client ask me about what motivates an older woman. We are so obsessed with youth and yummy mummies in this country that we forget this group of women. Who knows, I may even be wrong about my mum…
With a third of the UK population over 50, we can no longer afford to forget this important group of women.