Smartphone adoption among 55-75 year olds has now reached 71 per cent, surpassing the penetration rate across all UK adults in 2014.
The 55-75 age group (currently 14 million people UK residents) represents about a quarter of all smartphone owners in our survey, and is likely to grow in commercial importance over the coming years. This group is likely to become more smartphone literate, more numerous, and spend more on devices, airtime and mobile commerce.
Over half of the UK’s £11 trillion in wealth is owned by the baby boomer generation, currently aged 52-71, and half of the group have not yet reached retirement age.
Over the last five years ownership of smartphones and smartphone-based applications usage levels among 55-75 year olds have changed markedly.
Deloitte expects the smartphone penetration and usage intensity among 55-75 year olds to rise steadily over the medium term and a growing proportion (currently, about a sixth of all smartphone users in this age group) to become ‘power users’.
Deloitte has defined a ‘power user’ 55-75 year old as a smartphone owner who looks at their device more than 25 times a day. Power users look at their phone an average of 60 times a day (22,000 times per year), compared to an average of 40 daily glances across all UK adults. 71 per cent of this sub-group checks their phones within 15 minutes of waking, compared to 56 per cent across all smartphone owners. 31 per cent check their phone in the middle of the night; a little higher than the national average of 27 per cent.
Growth in adoption and usage is likely to be driven by a variety of factors. One driver will be generational pull – that is observing and replicating the behavioural patterns of children and in some cases grandchildren.
There are also likely to be many existing habits and behaviours that users port to a smartphone. Calls will increasingly move from fixed phones to mobile.
In some cases, increased usage may feel imposed on older users. For example, a growing number of parking meters may encourage payment via mobile phone, with a smartphone app offering the greatest convenience.
The industry opportunity is to catalyse the conversion of 55-75 year olds into power users. Operators need to consider channel to market and after-market support that is appropriate for this group. Smartphone vendors need to offer aspiration, accessible devices. Content vendors should consider how best to tap into this market.
In the last five years, use of instant messaging applications/services among 55-75 year olds has increased by 29 percentage points.
Smartphone penetration among 55-75 year olds has increased by 42 percentage points over the last five years.
56% of 16-24 year olds believe they use their smartphone too much, compared to only 12% of 65-75 age group.