It’s a fact. Europe (and the UK) has an ageing population, and what may be cause for concern for many, brings its own silver lining. This inverted population pyramid may bring a unique set of challenges. Where the demand on care and pensions places extra pressure on our purse strings, there is an opportunity that exists – and one that many entrepreneurs and innovators are tapping into. As we age, and as our lifespan increases, there will be a growing need for new products and services to keep us mobile, and improve our way of live – opening up new markets that could contribute to driving new industries in the country. So, while the negative perception persists, we look at opportunities that a new, growing, market brings to society – the economic potential of access and ability for all.
Just this week, the #Tech4Good Awards kicked off. Now in their 8th year, the AbilityNet Tech4Good initiative aims to recognise organisations and individuals who use digital technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place. Through their awards, they look to seek out individuals and businesses who are making a difference in connectivity, accessibility and digital health worlds – but they’re also looking to instil a sense of innovation within the business leaders of tomorrow through their Young Pioneer award.
What it is.
The European Commission defines the so-called “Silver Economy” as follows: “The “Silver Economy” can be defined as the economic opportunities arising from the public and consumer expenditure related to population ageing and the specific needs of the population over 50. The ageing population can be divided in 3 groups, each with their own need-patterns: active, fragile and dependant. Thus the Silver Economy comprises a large part of the general consumer economy, but with considerable differences in spending priorities and patterns.”
In fact, it’s not an entirely new concept. Various institutions have already been driving initiatives around this new economic opportunity since 2007, and as businesses start to shape up and embrace a new digital, technologically advanced approach to helping others, the Silver Economy is quickly becoming a high profile opportunity for many. Corporates are looking to expand their own reach through tapping into the market, and startups are developing almost overnight by innovating solutions and products that specifically serve our ageing population, helping them to live better.
Silver Spending Power
The German Institute for Economic Research states that the population group that has grown most in recent years is that of elderly people and considers that the cause of this increase is not so much due to actual demographic change, but rather a shift in people’s work activity at retirement age. We’re working for longer and living longer. And when we look at the spending power represented by this so-called Silver Economy, Euromonitor forecasts that the global spending power of the silver generation will reach $12 trillion in 2020, which would be 54% larger than the GDP of Latin America.
The Financial Times writes, “These new consumers are members of the fast-growing older demographic who are healthier and wealthier not only when compared with earlier generations of the same age. Crucially their spending power will be greater than that of the more frequently targeted 18 to 39-year olds“. Crucially, we’re experience a boom of a different kind – and organisations are shaping up for new opportunity, through an entirely new market.
Tapping into the Silver Opportunity
Considering the opportunities offered by new technologies which are likely to be used by our parents, our grandparents and even ourselves, there’s no hesitation that we’re on the brink of a new era of innovation. From Telecare systems cover many risk areas, from falls and floods to gas leaks and unwanted callers and can be tailored to suit the needs of the individual, to personal alarms that provide contact with the outside world in the case of emergency, to advanced memory and hearing aids and more, innovation is happening all around us, and this rise in internal demand are already boosting our regional economies as the creation of these new products and services lead to job creation and increase our overall competitiveness.
Fast Company writes: “Only a quarter of people aged 65 and older have a smartphone (though that number will grow), but 82% who do say owning one is “freeing.” Forbes spoke to one Uber driver in Los Angeles who said 40% of her passengers were elderly; their grandchildren downloaded the app for them. And there are a handful of apps geared more specifically toward the aging demographic.” And that’s just the start of it. From apps, to handheld devices, to fraudster-combatting services to more park benches, the ageing population, despite being a cause for concern, is stimulating innovation and discussion at the highest level – from entrepreneurs to the WHO, from the board room to Councils.
This is Your Time
Innovations are happening as we speak, and if you aren’t already thinking about ways to commercialise your creation, then you’re at risk of falling behind quickly. And regardless of how simple, or complicated your solution may be, commercialising your idea, and securing your rightful position in a new market, is critical to seeing that solution see reward. CFPro Ventures work with business leaders and investors from a wide variety of sectors. Our strong partner network means that regardless of your background or sector division, you receive business support that is tailored, knowledgeable and targeted to the growth of your business.
If your business is already showing potential, and you’re ready to grow exponentially, then it’s time to speak to us.