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Do People Spend More on Gadgets as They Get Older?

This Friday's USA Today featured a look at the fact that Tech giants target older buyers — and their cash. I understand the move from a market perspective, but I'm not sure people in their 50s and 60s (most notably my parents and their friends) will ever be as in tune or interested in technology as younger generations. Am I being ageist? USA Today reports:

Many 50-plus consumers "have been using personal computers and Sony Walkmans since they were 20 or 25 years old," he says. "They've spent years updating their cellphones, buying MP3 players, installing GPS navigators in their cars and shopping for the latest gadgets."

Combine that tech history with this demographic's colossal size (now more than 91 million) and its trillions in spending power — and it adds up to a massive sales opportunity for tech companies, most of which have not courted older adults before.

What do you think? Do people in their 50s spend more on gadgets than younger people?

Join The Conversation
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that people definitely spend more when they get older - but i don't know if it's really do to the disposable income - or just becuase they want nicer more expensive things
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
It's expanding my mind.
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
i think cell phone manufactuers can make a killing from this age group, but the buttons on all the new phones are too small to see, or the screens have too much going on. so they buy the cheap/free-with-new-contract phones because those are always bulky and have large buttons and fonts.
remedios remedios 9 years
If you interpret "gadgets" to mean ipods and fancy cell phones, then maybe younger people spend more. But my parents, both in their sixties, have the standard - computers (each), cell phones, mp3 player, huge tv with annoyingly loud speakers, etc - but my dad buys more gadgets than anyone I know. His gadgets though are related to musical equipment or boating. He's always buying something new in those categories. Most 20-30 somethings don't even think of those gadgets. If you expand the scope of what you think is a gadget, your view might change.
Midnightkiss4u09 Midnightkiss4u09 9 years
I would not think so.
caroline_1 caroline_1 9 years
my parents still have the same sony 20" tv we had when i watched sesame street.. AND they just got directv three months ago (three months, AFTER i moved out..). oh and they broke the dvd player last year and havent replaced it. (the tray wouldnt eject, so my dad pried it out with a screwdriver, thinking there was no other option) whereas in this house, we have a 50" flat LG HDTV, xbox360, PS3, Wii, three computers, FiOS... pretty much everything. Granted the BF is an engineer and thinks all this is the bare essentials... but i digress. I think technology is more important to us youngins, where it just scares the older ones.. :)
jordybee jordybee 9 years
Like a lot of the ppl above, I agree that it depends on several factors, especially income. Generations X and Y are undoubtedly more tech savvy than Baby Boomers, but ppl seem to generally spend more on luxury goods with age. I wish it were the other way around b/c I think I'd appreciate it a lot more now. :)
leahlarocco leahlarocco 9 years
I think it depends on the gadget and the person because as people get older they want more dependable products that will last longer and have a higher quality.
Gabriela14815884 Gabriela14815884 9 years
I think it depends. My mom for instance has spent less on techie stuff as she's gotten older, usually I (or my siblings) buy her the stuff. As for my generation I think it would be truer. Like it says, those of us who have been buying gadgets from our teens and early 20's would be more likely to spend a continual amount of money over the years to upgrade them.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
Very interesting interpretation nitronat! I agree. My parents are very tech savvy, but they have phones and tvs. i picked their phones out tho. but they've never really been into it. I'd surely buy more if i had more income. I know many older people in that age range who barely can use mobiles and don't know how to use the internet, but i can think of just as many that do. in this area tho, i'm sure it's different that the rest of the nation.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I think so. My parents do, and I sure spend more then I did a couple years ago even.
1cigarrette 1cigarrette 9 years
I think nitronat has basically said it all... Besides, what about older people buying stuff for the younger generation (think grandparents buying for grandkids... maybe?). Besides, i doubt there were as many gadgets to buy 30 years ago. I could be wrong, but this sounds ridiculous.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 9 years
My dad who is almost 59 loves tech products! It's crazy, he loves them way more than me. I adore my camera's, ipod and blackberry and laptop however my my dad is more up on the current products than I am. He has the Iphone, tablet computers, something else however I can't remember what; now he wants the new kindle, a playstation 3, he wants an apple laptop next year and so on,lol. He if he like a product than he invests in the company and he knows alot on the new cell phones and how the apple wannabe's (sprint, nokia, etc) are nothing compaired to the iphone. It's funny because I like tech gadgets however not nearly as much as my dad. Yet my dad doesn't really know how to do some basic computer skill so I teach him; I'm not that skilled w/ a cpu however I just know a few of the basics. I mainly use my laptop for itunes, photo storage and editing, internet and typing/saving my writings.
macgirl macgirl 9 years
I think if you compared the 50+ gadget buying crowd with 30 somethings you would find that the 50+ crowd aren't spending nearly as much as those 30 year olds. If you are comparing it to people in your 20's that might be something different. My parents are in their 50's, very tech savvy but don't nearly have the caliber of gadgets that I do. I find the same thing with my aunts and uncles as well.
nitronat nitronat 9 years
Personally I think it has to do with 2 of those factors. a) income - larger income = more ability to buy gadgets. b) technophilia/technophobia - technophilics will for sure buy gadgets as long as they have enough income. technophobics won't buy them. IMO there are two types of technophilics: 1) technophilics who buy gadgets because they look cool but will rarely use them. They want to have top of the line stuff. They don't go for quality, they go for shiny and quantity to impress people. 2) technophilics who are technically suave. They'll buy gadgets - and use them. They'll go for quality - they'll probably have quite a few themselves if they have a large income. But the difference between these and type 1s that have a lot is that they know how to use their tech. I believe my uncle is a type 1 technophilic. He also thinks he knows a lot about it - but I tend to know more about tech than he does - even if he doesn't admit it hehe. My parents however are technophobic - so if I get anything techy, I'm buying more than they are, tech-wise.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
My family (and in-law family) definitely fall into that category. My father and father-in-law, both in their 50's-60's, spend a great deal more on the biggest flashiest computers, televisions, GPS navigators, etc. Us 20-somethings might rely more on gadgetry like mp3 players and whatnot, but those with the greatest disposable incomes spend the most on technology.
glam-sugar glam-sugar 9 years
I spend more than when I was 20 and in college. I have a steady, decent income now.
calobee calobee 9 years
Usually, my husband or I are the ones to introduce new tech gadgets to our parents... they're pretty conservative with their cash, though.
GoingLikeSixty GoingLikeSixty 9 years
How do I get a Sunday USA Today? It was Friday's paper. I think geezers like me (60) probably spend less like OP said. We shop harder and aren't as inclined to need the latest and greatest tech gadget.
kitkatherine kitkatherine 9 years
my mother (a 61 year old) buys consciously, but doesn't spend more. she may spend more than most (she owns a thinkpad, a cheap nokia phone, and one of my old digital cameras) but she doesn't spend more than people like me or my boyfriend who are relatively tech savvy.
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