While young venture capitalists and tech-flex governments get excited by hi-tech innovations, simple things like packaging can have a more immediate, profound and profitable impact for ageing consumers.
Ageing hackathons I’ve attended often end up with bright young souls seeking a relevant purpose for some amazing new technology. Think robots, home monitoring devices, VR apps and so on. Most of these require users (subjects) to be surveilled or to change their behaviour in some way. Most will fail as a result.
Seldom do they begin by understanding the challenges faced by ageing minds, bodies and senses.
Responding to real needs of the ageing consumer
I was once asked by a Singapore Government think tank about the opportunities for industry, presented by the ageing population. Expecting some advanced tech solution, they were taken aback when I suggested they explore an alternative to the ring-pull can!
The fact is that after the age of 60, older adults can experience as much as 20 to 25 per cent decline in hand-grip strength. Research from the UK revealed that nearly half of people over 65 struggle to remove lids or caps from products such as plastic milk bottles and jars. Ring-pull cans are one of many impractical packaging elements that confront ageing consumers.
Pharma at the forefront of packaging for ageing consumers
According to this article, nearly 80 percent of seniors take at least one prescription medication, and one out of three take more than one as 60 percent of those over 65 will be managing multiple chronic diseases by 2030.
The article concludes that pharmaceutical companies who react quickest to the packaging needs of an ageing population have a unique opportunity to attract long-term brand loyalty.
So my advice to entrepreneurs seeking solutions for the ageing population; start with the consumer need, not the technology.
Sometimes the best solutions are the simple ones.