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Study: ‘Greying’ Gadget Freaks Sought

Interest in tech is not limited to the young

So-called “older” Americans are more tech-savvy now than in past generations. They use the Web a lot, especially to research health issues and travel.

Boomers have swelled this demographic; there are 96 million Americans age 50 and older, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections for 2008. That’s out of a total population of 307 million. By 2020, it projects older Americans, at 118.7 million, will make up 35% of the population.

The “older” demo is a demographic increasingly sought after by marketers and manufacturers. That’s why the Consumer Electronics Association and Compete, which specializes in studying online consumer behavior, teamed up on a study called: “Greying Gadgets: How Older Americans View Consumer Electronics.”

Among key findings of the study, 67% of 70-somethings use a cell phone on a weekly basis; older Americans are 27% more likely to visit travel Web sites than the average Internet user, and 98% more likely to visit health sites.

When asked about what top five consumer electronics they intend to buy in the next year, this demo listed HDTVs, laptops, cell phones, digital cameras or GPS devices. Radios were not among the top five results. If even this demo, consisting of boomers and World War II-generation Americans who grew up with radio, doesn’t list them as a “must-have,” this seems to bolster the argument for getting radio included on cell phones.

More than 3,000 older Americans took part in the study in November and December; CEA and Compete interviewed adults ranging in age from 55 to 85.