Last week saw the formal release of an excellent new research report “The Golden Economy – The Consumer Marketplace in an Ageing Society”. David Sinclair of ILC-UK undertook the research and the report was published by Age UK.
I went to the previous week’s ILC-UK seminar where David presented the headline findings but it was not until I had read the report in full that I saw just how much thought provoking material there is in there. Almost every section contains issues that could be dissected and debated on for some considerable time. In future blogs I hope to comment upon some of these.
As is made clear in the report there is much to be done to educate and raise awareness in the world at large, particularly the commercial world, about the needs, wants and preferences of the older sections of our society.
This blog just takes one particular aspect of the topic and flags a couple of quite serious implications.
No one, whether dealing with older consumers, older workers or older anything is quite clear where “older” starts and, indeed, the report has to rely on data from different interpretations of the start of older. However, in much everyday parlance it seems to start at about 50 years of age – hence the notion of the “over 50s”. But 50 until we “pop our clogs” is beginning to be a very long time, potentially as much as 50 years, or half our lives.
Nobody would ever dream of putting the first fifty years into one amorphous lump, so why should it be done for the second fifty? As the report identifies, there are myriad requirements associated with declining physical and mental health and isolation which markets do not yet address. But also identified is the failure to consider the requirements of the younger part of the older population which is looking much more for products and services that reflect a more active, dynamic and stylish way of life.
Until this is changed the young marketing executives will not only miss out on all kinds of profit opportunities but stereotypes of older, confused, infirm individuals will be reinforced and perpetuated in the media and elsewhere. Not every older person eats their cheese sandwiches on a day out in a seaside fairground and wish they had gone to a different optician.
And here is the real danger. Intentional or not, that same imagery will pervade the employment arena and provide a totally distorted picture of the attributes, the energy and the value of the older worker.
(For more and to download the report click below: