Leading Brands and Retailers Set Their Sights on Older Adults, So Should You

The Silver Economy Comes of Age…

Open any lifestyle magazine and you are likely to see the likes of Julia Roberts, Madonna, Helen Mirren, Jane Fonda and Joan Didion flying the flag for Givenchy, Versace, L’Oreal, and Céline respectively.

Employing mature celebrities to endorse products in a world saturated with pouting teens and seductive twenty somethings is likely to fuel a mounting debate on what constitutes age discrimination.

Bright Old Things at Selfridges

In the words of Age UK, “Ageism is discrimination or unfair treatment based on a person’s age. It can impact on someone’s confidence, job prospects, financial situation and quality of life. It can also include the way that older people are represented in the media, which can have a wider impact on the public’s attitudes.”

The demographic shift means that brands are now obliged to sit up and take notice of older adults. This is a golden opportunity for business to readdress an affluent market which is feeling misunderstood, with 67% of mature British consumers claiming that advertising portrayed them negatively and 75% not relating to advertising at all*; (* Age UK.)

Bright Old Things

The good news for Babyboomers is change is in the air. When it comes to spotting new trends, fashion and beauty brands are usually ahead of the curve and leading department stores are never far behind. By way of example, in an innovative twist on its annual Bright Young Things campaign, Selfridges decided to celebrate what it calls the retirement renaissance, with window and in-store displays featuring inspirational individuals who’ve embraced a new creative vocation later in life.

Commenting on the promotion, Selfridges’ Creative Director Linda Hewson said “As a centenary-old department store which has been successfully reinventing itself over and over again, it made so much sense for us to shine a light on the wealth of talent and experience harnessed by bright older creatives. These people can definitely teach us all a thing or two about growing old whilst staying young at heart and relevant.”

Influential trade publication Business of Fashion, believes this focus on older people is timely. Citing statistics compiled by consultants AT Kearney, BoF reveals that consumers aged 60 and older spent more than $8 trillion worldwide in 2010. What’s more, by the end of this decade that figure will have jumped to $15 trillion, making it essential for businesses to successfully engage older consumers and tap into the opportunity presented by what the European Commission calls the Silver Economy.

In separate research for the Financial Times by Silversurfers website, 82% of retirees said they felt businesses and brands did not understand their lifestyle and 69 per cent thought advertising aimed at the elderly was patronising.

Commenting on the results, Ros Altmann, the UK government’s Business Champion for Older Workers, said: “the opportunity to market to older consumers was like “buried treasure” for astute companies. “There’s a whole new phase of life up for grabs which nobody’s catered for. The over-60s are looking to spend their money and they don’t want to be sold products that would suit their grandparents.”

A Golden Opportunity for Astute Companies

Of course, the demographic shift is not a peculiarly British affair. According to a recent report on the ‘Longevity Revolution’ from Bank of America Merrill Lynch:

The 60+ age group is growing from 609mn in 2000 to 1bn in 2020 and to 2bn in 2050

The European population is by far the oldest and it has significant spending power

Average wealth for 50+ UK households is £541,000 and £723,000 for age 60-64

As they anticipate having more freedom, 67% of ‘Boomers’ (55 +) plan to spend more time on their hobbies and interests, such as shopping, travelling, entertaining and socializing. (Source: Nielsen)

A Revolution in Long Term Care

Unfortunately, the retirement renaissance is not all fun, games and holidays. On the other side of the coin we have to face the health, social and economic implications of an ageing population. With the number of people living in care homes in the UK forecast to rise from 450,000 in 2013 to 1.13 million in 2050, and a predicted £30 billion funding gap in the health budget by the end of this decade, there is clearly a need to act now.

This is the premise being addressed through the Long Term Care Revolution, a radical new  collaborative venture conceived and made possible by Innovate UK, an independent public body, sponsored by ‘BIS’, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, which invests in skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business.

According to Innovate UK (IUK) Chief Executive Iain Gray: “Late life care is often regarded as an economic liability but it can actually be an engine for economic growth. This is an expanding market and we need to radically rethink our approach to long-term care provision, providing options that will enable people to live with more dignity and autonomy”.

An Engine for Economic Growth

The Long Term Care Revolution aims to encourage and enable innovation in technology, business and service models and in so doing disrupt the institutional model of long term care provision in the UK, thereby achieving a reduction in the financial burden on State and Citizens.

To kick start the Revolution, from April SMEs will be able to apply for a share of at least £4.0 million unsecured development capital. If you are a director of a company with no experience of public funding competitions, don’t let it put you off as this is a very simple process. If your idea stacks up you could find yourself either leading or participating in one of several ground breaking new venture that will launch by this time next year.

International Development

Looking to the future, successful applications will most likely be thinking about growing the business opportunity through international expansion. A close relationship with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which is committed to ensuring the success of IUK funded projects in international markets, will be of value here.

IUK has also developed strong promotional links with the European Commission, to support the needs of UK based SMEs.I have been speaking with Peter Wintlev-Jensen, whose team at DG Connect is responsible for the EU active and healthy ageing agenda, about the Commission’s strategy for dealing with demographic change, as a challenge and opportunity for Europe, and about special measures to enable small businesses to get involved.

Click here to read Peter’s interview. If you are interested in attending a Meet the Buyer and funding event,or would like to learn more about getting involved with the Silver Economy and Long Term Care Revolution, please write to info@creativeskillsforlife.com.

You can also stay involved by clicking on one of the Update buttons above, or follow CSL on Twitter, where we shine a regular spotlight on innovative, digitally enabled creative developments in healthcare.