Perception vs. reality – still an obstacle when it comes to "older" adults

The always-insightful and valuable blog of Lori Orlov has an important item about the information gap as it affects older adults.

In particular, there is a serious lack of data about individuals over the age of 75:

“Start searching for recently surveyed data about individuals aged 75+. Use the usual searches for income, marital status, housing status, tech ownership.  Go ahead – give Bing and ChatGPT a try too – for example, smartphone ownership in the US among those aged 75+.  Data returned was from 2017, with an apology that nothing more recent was available. You would think this was an easy question — Bing knew it  and was apologetic about the lack of current info, which none of the other usual sources have either.”

From retirement and employment to tech, the information is either not there at all, or dated, or consolidated into too big a group — over 108 million Americans who are 50+ are often treated as a single entity. This is incredibly stupid, and Lori’s column gives examples of how the 70+ market or the 80+ market — considered as markets on their own — are large enough and valuable enough to deserve proper numbers and analysis.

We’ve seen this phenomenon at work many times in the Canadian market as well, where the 65+ population now exceeds 7 million people and yet is treated all as one homogenous lump. Worse, to the extent that the “older” tranches of this market are considered at all, the established thinking about them is laughably out of date — even by marketers, who you would expect to know better.

For example…

  • 74% of those who are 80+ own a smartphone

  • 75% of those who are 80+ have done online banking in the past three months

  • 95% still drive, and 45% drove over 5,000 km in the past 12 months, while 20% drove over 10,000 km


You should be astonished — not at the stats themselves, but at the number of marketers who aren’t even remotely aware of this.

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