Ageing Better elderly lady

New consumer research from the Centre for Ageing Better suggests that high street retailers are currently overlooking the needs of over 50s in their range of homewares, appliances and fittings, and are missing out on a large and growing market for more inclusive products that are also aesthetically pleasing.

The report warns that retailers which fail to provide products that appeal to this lucrative market are missing out, with over 50s already spending £319 billion a year (excluding housing costs), equivalent to roughly 54 per cent of total household consumer spending.

Estimates suggest that by the mid-2030s, half of all UK adults will be over 50. This demographic shift means the demand for ‘inclusively designed’, products, appliances and fittings for the home that are easy to use for consumers of all ages and abilities will only increase as more people move into their 60s, 70s and 80s and want to remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

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While over 50s are making improvements to their homes, the report found that only a limited range of inclusively designed products were identified in mainstream high street stores.

Consumers interviewed didn’t want products designed ‘for older people’, which they said could be stigmatising and unappealing, and struggled to find products that were easy to use, affordable and aesthetically pleasing.

Easy-to-use features include easy-pull or easy-turn controls that can be operated one-handed or with minimal effort; interaction points at user-friendly heights, such as eye-level ovens; and products designed to be easy to clean.

Examples of inclusive products recognised by consumers in the research include the Breville HotCup, Amazon Alexa and OXO goodgrips products.

People are spending more time than ever before in their homes and have become more aware of the problems or improvements needed. As retailers look ahead and aim to develop strategies to differentiate themselves in the market, they should focus on developing their inclusive product ranges, the report suggests.

Retailers also need to improve the customer experience around such products, including better point-of-sale guidance and information to help over 50s consumers make informed choices about products that would best suit their needs.

Ploy Suthimai, Innovation and Change Officer at the Centre for Ageing Better, said:  “The over 50s represent a rapidly growing and lucrative market that retailers continue to overlook.

“Inclusively designed products work for everyone. It’s not a niche or specialist market, and like everyone else over 50s consumers want products that are stylish and look good in their homes.

“In the aftermath of the pandemic, and with the age profile of consumers shifting dramatically in the next decade and beyond, retailers have an opportunity to expand their product ranges and deliver inclusive products that work for all ages and abilities.”

Ed Warner, Founder & CEO, Motionspot and Government Champion for Accessible Design, said: “Retailers could be doing much more to help people in later life access products that can help with their changing needs as they age.

“This audience is growing and has huge purchasing power and those retailers that can provide the right accessible products and services will increase footfall and revenues and have a positive impact on the lives of their customers.”

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