Businesses know that the baby boomer market is big, and that it’s aging. But they mostly don’t really know what to do with that information yet.
This year, about half of all United States adults will be over 50. And that group will hold 70% of the country’s disposable income. It’s a mystery why advertising focuses so much on the young, when the biggest spenders in the country are now seniors and retirees.
If you zoom out and look globally, the trend is even more notable. The spending power of seniors over 60 is expected to be $15 trillion by the end of the decade.
In other words, businesses should really be shifting their focus more and more to the senior market. While some already have, particularly some companies in the senior living and tech spaces, there’s still a lot of room in the market for products and solutions that will make seniors’ lives better.
Some researchers and companies are starting to work together to help fill in that space.
What is the LiveWell Collaborative?
The LiveWell Collaborative is an innovation lab founded by the University of Cincinnati and Proctor and Gamble. The non-profit organization brings together researchers, students, and corporations who tackle issues faced by seniors and other groups in order to (hopefully) find better solutions than those that currently exist.
They’ve explored projects in healthcare, consumer goods, and air travel, and continue to take on new challenges each year with brands ranging from Boeing to Oreo.
Projects of the LiveWell Collaborative
To give you an idea of what the LiveWell Collaborative does, here’s a quick rundown of a few specific projects they’ve taken on.
A Better Tray Table
Recognizing that bedridden hospital patients were often stuck buzzing nurses whenever they needed to get ahold of something in the room – even items in close reach – the LiveWell Collaborative considered how to redesign the hospital tray table. A good hospital tray table should increase the convenience of accessing more items from bed, while not influencing the comfort of the bed itself.
The Collaborative spent time in hospitals and assisted living facilities talking to patients and healthcare providers to better understand the particular needs they had. They then produced a number of designs that improved upon the traditional hospital tray table.
Take Me There Chair
Getting around in airports is frequently unpleasant. Nobody likes it, but for seniors or anyone with a disability the difficulties of air travel can become a bigger issue. The LiveWell Collaborative took on a whole project in collaboration with Boeing based on developing ways to make air travel better. One of the final results of their work was a patent for the Take Me There Chair, which was designed to help seniors get around the airport more easily.
Medicine Management System
One of the pressing problems a huge number of seniors have to deal with is managing a number of different medications. This becomes especially challenging for Alzheimer’s patients who face both a high number of medications and an increasing issue with memory problems. With the goal of solving one of the problems that cause patients to move out of their own home sooner, they developed the MedMail system, which would send seniors the meds they need, all pre-arranged in packages that make it easy to figure out which pills to take each day at the right time.
LiveWell’s products combine creativity and research with a problem-solving focus. While none of their ideas have become mainstream and widely available yet, they may well be planting the seeds that help to improve seniors’ lives over the next few years.