Badly-designed kitchen tools are amongst a multitude of problems encountered by older consumers – which, overall, result in a huge loss of business.
That is the conclusion of new research by the International Longevity Centre for Age UK, which says that consumers aged 65-plus are facing design barriers at every stage of the shopping experience.
These mature shoppers account for an increasing slice of the nation’s purchasing power – nearly £100bn a year. Yet by failing to listen to the needs and aspirations of this growing age group, says The Golden Economy report, companies could be missing out on a multi-million pound business opportunity.
Retailers in particular still have some way to go in adapting to an ageing consumer market. Problems frequently encountered by older shoppers include unhelpful store layout – particularly narrow aisles and poor shelf signposting, shelves that are too high or low to reach, deep trolleys from which it is difficult to retrieve shopping, and a lack of seating and toilets.
And the difficulties do not end once products have been bought. One in five over-65s say that kitchen tools such as salad spinners, potato peelers and scissors are uncomfortable to use, while nearly half can struggle to take lids or caps off bottles and jars.
Says David Sinclair, head of policy and research at ILC-UK: “This report highlights a big market failure. The fact that we have an ageing society is not a new one, yet far too many companies, big and small, seem blissfully unaware of the changes that are happening around them.
“There is a significant market advantage to be gained for those companies which will address the issues facing older consumers.”
To encourage businesses to factor in the needs of older people, Age UK is now developing Age OK, an accreditation mark which demonstrates that a product has been designed inclusively.