SANDY BERGER: Retirees Are More High Tech
The AARP Convention for 2006 is now over.
It attracted about 20,000 attendees to beautiful Anaheim, Calif. Most of the attendees were over age 50. Some were close to twice that age.
Many energetic AARP members in their 80s walked the floor while others made the rounds in scooters. Everyone was eager to mingle and see the sites.
This year, technology permeated the convention with more of these types of companies exhibiting than ever before. In all, there were 18 tech companies.
The usual ones such as Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Earthlink and Dell were joined by some surprising exhibit mates. For the first time ever, Nintendo was there marketing to the 50-plus group.
While most gaming companies have been marketing only to the 20- and 30-somethings, Nintendo came out to tell boomers and beyond of their new products that are geared for the older crowd. Many of the grandparents who stopped by the Nintendo exhibit got to try out the hot new Wii gaming system before their grandchildren, as the Wii was available to try at the convention while it is still several weeks before its launch date.
Nintendo also promoted its "Brain Age" game for the hand-held Nintendo DS. I gave away several Nintendo DS devices during my workshops and stage presentations. The winners jumped up and down in excitement just like teenagers.
Other surprising booths included Jitterbug, which now makes a special cell phone for seniors; Quixitm which was promoting Happy Neuron games to keep your mind sharp; and a similar company called Brain Fitness. There was even an executive from "The Boomer Show," a new cable television show aimed at baby boomers.
My workshops on using technology to stay in touch with grandchildren were filled to the brim. My stage presentations showing high-tech toys and gadgets were also popular.
At my first AARP convention seven years ago, some people who had never seen a mouse actually tried to put the mouse on the screen to move it around. This year, the contrast was amazing.
We still had lots of technology newbies in attendance, but everyone knew about mice and computers. Many were asking questions about digital cameras, online photo sharing, geocaching, Internet telephone calling and other high-tech topics.
I talked to people who were using the public computers on the show floor. You might think they were only checking their e-mail, but I found users checking their bids on eBay, printing out boarding passes, and adding comments to their blogs and Myspace pages.
Looks like we are really entering a new era. Retirement doesn't mean sitting in a rocking chair anymore.
Marketers are realizing that this AARP generation is active and ready to roar. Boomers and zoomers are playing games, using cell phones, and using high-tech tools to keep their minds and bodies in tip-top condition.
The grandparents of this new retirement generation would be astonished!
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/ck messageboard.
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