Giving the last presentation at our recent Healthy Ageing APAC Summit 2019 in Singapore, Dave McCaughan, founder of Bibliosexual, told the audience that it is necessary to look at the elderly consumers in a different, but still positive way as times have changed.
“In the 1980s, retirement literally translated to waiting for death [but] the world has since changed. We do not have time to wait for death now.
“In the past in most western countries, especially for men, when you retire, you live less than seven years, which is what the pension pay model is based on.
“Now, the model is still based on the fact that you're only going to live seven years.”
However, he said this group of 60- to 90-year-olds did not have the same mindset any longer. They are focused on building new life as it unfolds, and not waiting for death after retirement, he added.
McCaughan said it was necessary to look at products and services targeting these older consumers, or whom he called ‘new life builders’, in a way that makes them feel positive and helps them reflect on their own goals.
“Most people think that people above 60 years old are broken – [They] are not. They are actually looking towards the future, so don’t side line old people.”
“[For example], there is a restaurant in Japan called the Restaurant of Mistaken Orders where all the waiting staff suffer from dementia.”
In a world with 35 million dementia patients, and expected to rise to 115 million by 2020 according to the WHO, the restaurant’s aim is to spread dementia awareness among the Japanese population and make society a bit more open minded and caring.
On the restaurant’s website, they stated 37% of orders were mistaken, but 99% of customers were happy.
McCaughan said such a scheme is not only good for the diners, where they naturally ‘feel good’ about themselves, but is good for the dementia patients too.
He said current marketing methods to these new life builders are wrong, and “We should debunk marketing myths [saying that elderly consumers] ‘don’t buy new stuff’, ‘don’t try new products’, or ‘can’t use technology’ and look at them differently.”
“Better margins come from servicing old people. Look at the travel industry, automotive, technology, marathon business,” McCaughan added.
“In the travel industry, seniors are more willing to pay full fare than any other age group. In the automotive industry, it is well-known that most sales come from people above 50 years who are more likely to purchase higher-end cars and SUVs. The marathon business also depend on these seniors.
“The biggest misconception of seniors is that they can’t use technology. But those people from 60 to 75 years, they have lived through the introduction, adapted and learned to use the television, Walkman, remote control, microwave, vending machine, ATM, PC, camera, mobile phone, and smartphone.”
He added that seniors are in fact the ‘first buyers’ of many such technologies, so companies would do well to take note of this when marketing to them.