Has COVID-19 Shifted Technology Adoption Narratives for the Older Generation?

If there’s one thing that has been a constant over time, it’s that older generations and modern technology are typically like oil and water – regardless of how much you try to combine them, they just won’t mix.

Any variant of “older people” and “technology” in Google yields images like this or this, with the older generation typically at the wrong end of a meme. But with COVID-19 forcing most people into isolation and increasing our reliance on technology, did elderly people and those who are less technologically inclined follow suit?

More importantly for brands, does this open up new opportunities to engage with a previously untapped market now that many of the familiar ways to do things, from shopping to even just having a conversation with someone outside of your household, can now only be done online.

Surveys and User Data Point to a Growing Trend

Results from an April 2020 survey by Accenture certainly suggests that digital commerce could benefit long term by these changing behaviors. According to their report, for Instacart customers 56 years and over, one in three Instacart users were ordering their groceries online for the first time according to recent new customer data.

Related industries such as digital payment platforms naturally saw increased adoption as well, with people over 50 being the fastest-growing segment for PayPal from March to April. So how did the data look in the Quid product, and what areas of opportunity were we able to uncover with our media intelligence platform regarding technology adoption for senior citizens in the past year?

Media Coverage Tells a Different Story

When taking a look at our network, we can see that Online Shopping and Payment Trends made up 12% of media coverage around technology adoption by the elderly in the past year, followed closely by Telehealth and Videoconferencing.

Full network of conversations around technology adoption by older generations - media intelligence data visualization.

Full network of conversations around technology adoption by older generations.

Drilling down into the Telehealth and Videoconferencing topic reveals a number of articles detailing an increase in senior adoption due to COVID-19, which isn’t necessarily news to many of us. However, when looking at the Online Shopping and Payment Trends, the survey and user data about older generations adopting technology didn’t pick up as much media traction as we thought it would have, with many of these articles making reference to older people as a subset of a larger study, but offering no additional insights into long-term behavior changes.

What’s also interesting in the coverage of these two topics is the differences in region, specifically between North America and Europe, and what the media was gravitating towards in their respective regions. While coverage of these two topics were the top 2 in North America, they barely cracked the top 10 in Europe.

Full network of conversations around technology adoption by older generations filtered down to European publications - media intelligence data visualization.

Full network of conversations around technology adoption by older generations filtered down to European publications.

Instead, the emphasis in Europe was specifically around Volunteers and Community resources for the elderly and those who aren’t as technologically savvy, which included coverage of online volunteering platforms like Pop to the Shop.

This speaks to the importance of understanding how key narratives can be different by region, and how vital it is to have this visibility through media intelligence. There’s even a bit of additional nuance to this when comparing these types of stories as they were framed in North America. While media did cover stories about how technology is being used to help the elderly, the focus was specifically on younger people taking initiative through online platforms.

When you take a look at both North American and European coverage of the topic, and viewed these topics based on social engagement, you can see that there’s a significant difference in what’s driving people to action on social channels.

Key Takeaways

While the narrative of older generations adopting technology hasn’t appeared to have shifted just yet, where brands may have an opportunity to expand their total share of voice is by attaching themselves to coverage around technology that enables people to help the elderly in their community.

For those that want a larger impact in North America, campaigns that enable the youth to have a platform for aiding the elderly also appears to have the potential not just for media coverage, but also for amplification through strong social engagement.

Want to learn more about how you can leverage media intelligence from the Quid product to identify whitespace opportunities in your industry? Sign up for your own personalized demo of Quid today and find the insights you need to get ahead of your competition.

 

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