Those aged 65 and over will account for 23% of the total UK population by 2035 (ONS, 2012) so it is essential that the needs of older consumers are understood. This group also has a large amount of buying power. Working with the charity Age UK,
Dr Gabriella Spinelli from Brunel Business School has generated solutions to tackle the problem of product and service provision for older people. Her work involves developing and evaluating products and services which can assist communication, improve the range of choice and enhance mobility.
Dr Spinelli’s team interviewed over 100 older consumers, distributed a questionnaire to over 1500 people aged 50-94 and surveyed 75 SMEs and large corporations in the UK Five specific marketing segments were identified based on self-perception of age and which are linked to older consumers’ attitudes, behaviour, values and needs.
The findings have enabled Age UK to develop and strengthen a business network called “Engage” (including organisations such as: BskyB, Atoc, BT, Virgin and Homebase). This network seeks in consultation with Dr Spinelli and Age UK to improve services and products for older customers.
“I valued the whole process; talking to real users through to designing with ageing consumers in mind”
(Member of Engage)
Dr Spinelli states that it is important to focus on the context or social resources available to the older consumer. Only then is it possible to understand how the individual makes a product or service choice. An older individual’s adoption of a smart phone, for example, may not take place without support in setting up the device from a family member or from assistance in the shop.
Dr Spinelli’s research has contributed to an understanding of the often complex and sophisticated product and service needs of the elderly. The research has also led to a growth in Age UK’s business network from 7 companies to 40 in two years and has enabled the charity to diversify its revenue stream by offering consultancy services. This research led by Brunel has increased awareness of the product and service needs of an ageing population, helping to make the lives of older people easier.
This is part of a stream of research within Centre for Research into Entrepreneurship, International Business and Innovation in Emerging Markets.