Building business for an older market

A STUDY examining spending habits among over-50s in Ireland has been shared with local businesses as part of Kilkenny’s Age-Friendly County initiative, with the intended double benefits of serving older people’s needs and bringing in business.

A STUDY examining spending habits among over-50s in Ireland has been shared with local businesses as part of Kilkenny’s Age-Friendly County initiative, with the intended double benefits of serving older people’s needs and bringing in business.

With 30,000 people over the age of 50 living in Co Kilkenny, it is an area with great potential for growth, Age-Friendly County regional programme manager Debra O’Neill told a meeting of Kilkenny’s Business of Ageing Forum on Wednesday last.

Commissioned by the Ageing Well Network, the research ‘Age Shall Not Wither: Ireland’s Older Consumers’ was conducted by Amárach Research. It included 500 face-to-face interviews with people over 50 across Ireland.

Of these, there was an average annual income of 27,000, and just 16% were still paying off a mortgage.

Despite the recession, 53% of respondents said they did not eat out less often, 61% said they would not delay home improvements, 55% did not cut back on holiday spending and 51% would not delay the purchase of a new car.

Asked about their level of exercise, 78% said they walk on a regular basis and 14% play golf regularly, while only 9% are gym members.

Fifty-four per cent said they watch what they eat in order to increase their health, and 76% were willing to spend more on healthy food. Fifty-four per cent have private health insurance and 47% have a medical card.

Of the 38% who use the internet regularly, the most popular sites visited are Google (38%), Facebook (19%), Ryanair (13%), RTÉ (11%) and MSN Hotmail (11%).

Many of those surveyed were prepared to shop around for competitive offers. In the past year, 13% switched car insurance provider, 10% switched their main grocery shop, and 10% their electricity supplier.

It is hoped that such information can help local businesses to get more in line with older people’s needs and interests, Ms O’Neill said. “This is not about making money out of older people. It is about a market that is growing and having a business that is inclusive.”

Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce CEO Alison McGrath said businesses could make simple yet effective efforts such as offering products and services appropriate for older adults, discounts and special offers, drop-off and delivery services, providing customers with a place to sit down and allowing them to use the toilets, and reducing excessive noise and music.

Among local Age-Friendly plans, Ms McGrath noted, Kilkenny is due to present Ireland’s first Age-Friendly Awards in October, the county is being promoted as an age-friendly destination, and it will host the Greystock festival for people over 50 in September.

Networking

The meeting also saw the launch of a website designed to match older people’s skills with those who can benefit from their advice and knowledge.

Located at www.silentknowledge.eu, ‘Silent K’ is working to add “experts” who can share their expertise with the site’s customers in the categories of education, business and finance, health and social care, local government, and the community and voluntary sector through discussion boards, blogs, Skype and more.