Seniors in everyday consumer life: Baby boomers advise the Generation Silent22. October 2021 Published by Jana Greyling
Seniors buy household appliances, medication, office utensils, accessories for their hobbies and even food online and spend on average more than younger consumers per order. But do they make all the decisions on their own or do they rely on advice? And if so, from whom? The latest issue of “Trendmonitor Deutschland” (“Trend Monitor Germany”) from the market research institute Nordlight Research on the focal topic of “Young and old seniors: How adult children help and influence their aging parents in making consumer choices and purchasing decisions” shows that two out of three seniors are actively advised and assisted by their children in selecting the right thing to buy. Yet the children themselves are already senior citizens aged between 65 and 74. They are therefore termed “young seniors” in the study.
Who advises the young seniors?
Young seniors therefore advise old seniors – mainly on complex issues, such as telecommunications contracts or buying a smartphone or other electronic devices like laptops, tablets or computers. The study does not reveal whether the group of young seniors themselves seek advice from their children or grandchildren. However, you can assume that is the case from reading media reports. “Many elderly people are vehemently against digital products. Why? They don’t want to grapple with the subject matter. However, you should make it clear to your (grand)parents or favorite seniors that smartphones offer them obvious advantages,” writes futurezone.de in a recent article on “Smartphones for seniors.”
Well, you ought to know that some of the young senior generation – or baby boomers – are pretty fit and well-informed, especially about technological matters. “Baby boomers spend a lot of time online: 27 hours a week, or two hours a week more than younger people aged 16 to 34. They want to keep in touch and are practical. The majority of boomers use smartphones, and they’ll definitely use tablets. Although they’re mobile, the desktop experience is also important and can’t be ignored for them. Boomers use Facebook far more than any other social media platform – to stay in contact with family and friends, spread their views and ask for recommendations or advice […]. As consumers, boomers use technology to make purchase decisions, but tend to compare prices more than read ratings. Boomers shop online just as often as millennials and even spend more, since they tend to buy higher-priced items.” Reading that, it is difficult to comprehend that the way information is conveyed to them often fails to take into account these findings, especially when it comes to technical topics.
“Smartphones are often a closed book for the elderly. They don’t know what devices are suitable for them and don’t cope well with too many bells and whistles. They therefore need suitable devices. We show you the best senior citizen smartphones for grandma and granddad,” states the website curved.de. The tips, purchase recommendations and questions on digital devices that might suit grandparents are not aimed at old seniors, but at their children or grandchildren. “Our life is becoming more and more mobile, and smartphones help us keep in touch with our environment, family and friends […] Perhaps your grandparents have already thought about buying a smartphone, but are hesitant because they’re not so familiar with the subject as you are. Or they don’t know what device might be suited to them. You can help them find the right senior citizen smartphone. You should talk with your parents or grandparents about what features they feel to be important in a device and, of course, about any special needs they have,” says o2online. In that context, it certainly helps to know that the persons advising them are themselves sometimes young seniors, as the market research institute found out. And that they in turn have someone who gives them advice.
The study’s results show that two-thirds (66%) of adult children in Germany help their aging parents in making consumer choices – on matters relating to contracts or planned new purchases, for example. The parents’ purchase decisions are directly influenced by that. The growing number of seniors who are more elderly, live on their own and need care are particularly dependent on everyday help from their children. Over 500 German citizens – with at least one living parent from the age groups “young seniors” (65 to 74) and “old seniors” (75 plus) – were asked in detail about their parent’s life situation and support and assistance for them in making consumer choices.
The results show that the areas of everyday life where adult children most advise and actively support their “senior” parents include not only general help and assistance when they need care during an illness, but in particular: telecommunication contracts (45%), insurance matters (35%), banking (32%), maintenance work in the apartment/house (32%), investments and asset management (31%), energy supply (31%), matters related to health insurance (30%), and everyday purchases (30%). The type of help ranges from active advice (discussions), occasional energetic support to regular supervision and accompaniment. As is only to be expected, the older the parents grow, the greater the average frequency and intensity of the assistance provided. Seniors seek the advice and help of their adult children particularly frequently if they are planning new purchases or are faced with purchase decisions about smartphones, tablets, computers (49%), entertainment electronics (46%), large electrical appliances (35%), insurance (30%), energy contracts (30%), cars (25%), and investments as a nest egg for themselves or family members (25% each).
The adult children predominantly assess the consumer and purchase behavior of their “senior” parents as being prudent (44%) and thrifty (46%), and far more seldom as free-spending (9%) or spontaneous (8%). As regards the brand awareness of the elderly generation, 18 percent of seniors are described as being strongly brand-conscious by their children and 25 percent as partly brand-conscious. In the view of their children, the issue of “sustainability and climate protection” plays at least partially an important role in the everyday actions for half of parents (54%) and to a greater extent for around one-quarter (23%). According to their children, one-third of seniors (34%) feel that the issue is only less important or not important at all (young seniors: 28%; old seniors: 39%).
The “senior” parents’ general competence in using digital media is predominantly assessed as limited or low. Just 27 percent rate their “senior” parent’s digital literacy as being (fairly) competent (young seniors: 37%; old seniors: 17%).
Gigaset always endeavors to deliver the very best quality and service in all areas so as to make it easy for young seniors to advise their parents in everyday matters relating to telephony, the smart home or smartphones, for example. For instance, selected smartphones now automatically come with the attractive Gigaset service pledge. It means customers can enjoy good quality simply and with no worries: Apart from the general 24-month manufacturer’s warranty, there is a three-month warranty on damage due to breakage or damp and a three-month satisfaction guarantee.
More than 550 employees develop, design and produce innovative phones, smart home systems and, since 2018, smartphones as well. That makes Gigaset the only European company to make communication products like that in Germany. In 2019, it captured the special accolade “German Traditional Brand” for its constancy. This award means that Gigaset is among the who’s who in German business and is testimony to the responsibility it displays toward its customers, employees and partners. That success is also “Made in Germany.”