With regard to demographics, I have mostly touched on two topics: on the one hand, that the younger generations tick differently and therefore have different needs when it comes to shaping their lives. On the other hand, I have always pointed out that the 50+ should not all be lumped together (which, strictly speaking, I probably did with the young…). There are definitely older people who are fully comfortable with new technologies. And if you look at who is producing innovations, it is more often representatives of older generations and not generations Y or Z.
Especially since the older generations are an important consumer group. The first time older people came onto the product development screen was the design of the Mercedes A-Class. In this, the seating surfaces were deliberately set higher to make it easier to get in and out of the car. In the meantime, there are countless products designed for older generations. In view of an ageing society, it can be assumed that numerous innovations and new products will also focus on older people in the future.
But how could existing products and services be designed to serve all generations?
One development that has always puzzled me is that of absolutely small and invisible hearing aids. When I had to watch my then 81-year-old father struggling to insert and change batteries with these pinhead-sized devices, I thought to myself: here the design is missing the biggest customer group. Of course, older people are also vain, but if they decide to get a hearing aid, they certainly want to be able to use it on their own – even with limited fine motor skills.
We all probably still remember the almost satirical situation where the first vaccination appointments for those 70+ were best made via the internet. The whole procedure was designed in such a complicated way that it was incomprehensible even for many younger people. So again, the design was not geared to the target group.
By the way, younger people also appreciate it when a process is designed to be uncomplicated and self-explanatory. That is why almost all online shops have adopted the principles introduced by Amazon. Meanwhile, such processes can also be observed in online applications. If a young person can submit an application simply by forwarding their Xing or LinkedIn profile, they probably won’t be able to bring themselves to laboriously fill out a long internet questionnaire with the very same data.
If we broaden our view, turn to the megatrends and connect them to the Silver Society: What could emerge from this? Example mobility: The concept of car sharing has already made many people, including older people, consider only taking a car when they actually need it. Since the car sharing offer is constantly being expanded, the concept can definitely work in big cities, especially in view of the increasing shortage of parking spaces.
But what could mobility offers for even older people look like? People want to be mobile in order to get where they need to go. As an older person, that means shopping, friends and relatives, and doctors. Those who are still mobile themselves either take public transport or do car sharing. Those who are no longer mobile could make use of delivery services. There are now a variety of concepts here, for example for large purchases with longer advance planning as well as small purchases with delivery within the next half hour. However, there is still room for improvement in person-to-person visits. Home visits by doctors have become rather rare, especially in big cities. Here, the internet doctor, who can give an initial diagnosis, is the first port of call. But not all seniors can or want to use such offers. But what if the robot idea that large logistics centres are already using could be used for people, for example as a self-driving taxi or, in perspective, in nursing care? According to newspaper reports, 500,000 caregivers will be needed in the future for the baby boomers alone, who will retire in the coming years. Where these are to come from – no idea. I myself am already determined to be supported by a robot in my old age. Now some will say: That’s impersonal! Counter question: What does personal mean? Listening and thinking? Helping out? Being there when help is needed? There are many things a robot does more patiently than a human being.
Maybe that is too revolutionary a concept. What I wanted to address here is: How can you check your product or service offer for the benefit of the older generation? It is crucial to answer the question of whether the existing can be adapted or whether new offers need to be defined to meet the needs of this ever-growing group. The design is mostly the responsibility of people who are still fully in working life and have completely different needs than people who are no longer in working life. Just ask some senior citizens how they would use your product and where they see room for improvement. Now the commercial with the iPad certainly comes to mind. What if this were possible? If you could actually read a recipe in the appropriate font size on the iPad while you cut the ingredients on the screen?
As you can see, there is a lot of potential here for spinning and imagination that can lead to new business ideas. If you would like support in these considerations: Just give us a call!
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