The need for innovative product design for older people

“Life expectancy has been increasing for decades but now we need innovation to change the way we provide products, systems, and services to older people.”*

The over 50’s represent 45% of the total population’s spending power, valued at nearly £300 billion and the number of people aged 60 or over is due to grow by more than 50% in the next 25 years.

Add to this the announcement that was made on 23rdMay by the Minister of State for Universities and Science David Willets about the “dallas scheme” – Delivering Assisted Living At Scale which has funds to explore innovative products to assist 170,000 people within the next three years and also sets out to innovate in products for the over 50’s market. Facts which contribute to highlight an increasing awareness and need for innovative product design for the older and ageing market.

So what criteria do we need to consider when we are looking at product design?

Who is going to use the product, how and where will they use it and what are the right questions to ask so that we can understand what would make this a product that enhances lives? If you begin with a defined target market then your design will be aimed at the centre of the target, we prefer to look in from the edges and this enables us to make our designs as inclusive as possible. Getting to understand the person and what makes the difference between a product that serves a purpose and a product that really makes a positive impact?

What else changes about our habits as we age, do we buy differently and how does that affect design?

Ford used octogenarians to test a design for a new car, their incorporated their feedback and produced an award winning design.  Interestingly no young person has ever complained that the Ford was too easy to drive! As a great example of diversity and design, Ford, were also the prestigious winners of the Car of the Century Award with the Ford T Model T.

Products for Dementia Care

Less than ten years ago, many products for dementia care were provided free of charge, products were generally designed and manufactured in-house by companies specialising in this market but the situation has changed. There is a growing demand for design that focuses on the design for human spirit, not just statistical research. By looking at the people who are buying these products and understanding their needs, designers can make products desirable, products that bring pleasure to the people who use them and make tasks that may have become difficult, easier to achieve, reducing frustration and adding to the quality of people’s lives.

How are people changing their habits as they age? What products can enhance lives and make a difference?

Do let us have your ideas and suggestions by writing to jane.silk@mature-marketing.co.uk.

Article submitted by Triteq – highly skilled and innovative product designers with the ability to engage with user needs ready to listen to your brief and work with you to achieve valuable and successful results.

*Source: The Technology Strategy Board launch a new £27m innovation programme to help the elderly

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