Aging has no point. It just happens. To everyone. With aging, comes the need for products that help us age gracefully.
The senior living industry continues to build inventory that 90% of retirement-age people don’t want to move into.
Of adults with treatable hearing loss, less than 20% actually buy hearing aids.
So, what’s going on?
According to Joseph Coughlin, Founder and Director of the MIT Age Lab, the problem is that no one actually wants these products. Senior living, as currently designed, feels too “senior.” Whether in-the-ear or around-the-ear, hearing aids tell the outside world “I’m old!”
“We buy products not just to do jobs but for what they say about us,” according to Coughlin. Identity matters to us more than utility as we age. Older people won’t buy things that remind them that they are old.
So, what’s the answer?
Reimagining Product Design
Bose is taking advantage of the fact that mobile phone owners of all ages use ear buds, not just the elderly. Bose and other manufacturers are currently making hearing aids that resemble ear buds rather than traditional hearing aids.
Musician and lifestyle esthetician, Jimmy Buffet, of all people, understands that senior living can be attractive to Baby Boomers if done like his Margaritaville senior living communities.
It’s not so much vanity that drives older people to find new solutions to the problems of aging. Rather, it is a longing to continue to be treated, and viewed, as vital human beings.
Maybe it’s time for manufacturers and builders to stop doing the same thing over and over again, and reimagine themselves in the image of the Baby Boomers that they are trying to serve.
SGD is a San Francisco Bay Area advertising, marketing and branding agency specializing in the senior and boomer markets. We’ve successfully positioned, branded and rebranded companies that market to seniors, weaving traditional and online tactics to create compelling stories that drive response.
About the Author: Duff Reiter is an Account Director / Planner / Writer at SGD Advertising specializing in senior / boomer healthcare, lifestyle, financial, travel / leisure and technology brands.