The barrier is down: digital and retirement living.

BLOG: For retirement living developers, the opportunities resulting from an uptake in digital by older Australians, are unprecedented and unparalleled.

David  •  Tuesday September 4, 2018
Digital  •  Health & Ageing

Internet enabled consumer lifestyle products, and the death of the standalone home PC have removed a significant barrier for older Australians and their digital ability. Their adoption of technology and integration of digital transactions into daily routine continues apace.

For retirement living developers, the opportunities resulting from an uptake in digital (tech and experiences) by older Australians, are unprecedented and unparalleled. This is manifest across the entire development life-cycle; in product development, infrastructure, market positioning, brand and sales campaigns. Recognition of this behavioural shift is key to capitalising on a customer base that is woefully underserved by the market.

Four out of five Australians over the age of 50 access the internet through a home connection. In the bracket from 50-70 years, nearly 90% have an internet enabled smartphone, and high likelihood of owning other internet enabled handhelds, tablets and consumer devices. This is not the technophobic geriatric cliche once commonly assumed. This is a connected, increasingly tech-shrewd cohort.

Given the preceding, what story will your development brand tell about technology and its place in retirement living? Christopher Booker (and many others from the canon on which he draws), speculates that there are only seven types of plot, on which, all narratives are based. From nursery rhymes to Hollywood blockbusters, from Bram Stoker, to ‘brand stories’. Your brand story to be precise, and the ‘living’ of that story through the customer experience you provide to prospective buyers and existing residents.

Lifestyle integration.

What’s the story?

  • Internet savvy seniors are seeing the transactional components of daily life moving online. email, social networks, banking, paying bills and doing the shopping are already familiar digital experiences to this audience.
  • They see health records and other points of engagement with government and bureaucracy shifting online, and will soon expect similar integration of more pedestrian ‘life admin’.
  • They are rarely without internet connectivity, and expect speeds that allow them to access the content they want, when they want it, without interruption. (Think: shopping, streaming content, connecting with friends and relatives).
  • They are open to value-adds, delivered though embracing new, connected technologies.

What’s the opportunity?

  • The onus on any retirement delivery to consider digital infrastructure will only increase as buyers currently in their 50s and 60s consider the move into retirement living.
  • The internet is now a part of the business of everyday life for this demographic, and this ought be reflected as a base expectation in the technology integrated into any retirement living product.
  • As the industry catches up with the demand from buyers, there is a clear opportunity for those who put this future focused, tech-ready offer in front of buyers as a competitive difference. The acknowledgement that continuity of quality internet access, connectivity of a suite of internet enabled lifestyle devices is key to quality of life, can be a powerful lever (particularly in the comparison segment of the customer journey).

Workforce participation.

What’s the story?

  • We are wealthier than ever before, but cost of living is also higher than it has ever been.
  • For this reason, financial security beyond the traditional idea of ‘retirement’ is front of mind for older Australians.
  • The clear-cut progression from working life to a retirement state is no longer the average experience. Seniors are navigating this in unique and nuanced ways.
  • Continued access to technology, networks and ideas is key to many Older Australians. Tailored, continuing engagement with the workforce can deliver satisfaction and purpose.

What’s the opportunity?

  • Imagine retirement living products that truly catered for not only the individual’s work requirements, but offered collective work spaces for residents, high speed internet, and connectivity to other collaborative activity such as teleconferencing, google hangouts, or simply hosting meetings or workshops on site.
  • Placing this understanding of the changing face of retirement in Australia could be seismic in terms of market differentiation and brand narrative.
  • A proactive step toward the future reality of the ‘retirement’ life-stage, it could spark an entire ‘transitional stage’ product development, offering a beacon to those for whom it is an unmet customer experience priority.

Digital health delivery.

What’s the story?

  • Objective measurement of the ‘activity of daily living’ (ADL), made possible through internet enabled health tech (including wearables), is revolutionising the integration and delivery of support and care throughout the ageing process.
  • The extended independence afforded by adoption of these technologies is a price that older Australian’s appear willing to pay (despite perceived liability of intrusion or invasion of privacy).
  • The capacity to access realtime or aggregated behavioural data has tremendous value to healthcare delivery, and offers greater accountability in terms of patient compliance, a perennial issue for GPs and other health professionals with older patients.
  • Families too, are afforded great peace of mind by the opportunity for regular updates on ADL from their loved ones.

What’s the opportunity?

  • At a minimum, as with lifestyle focussed technology and internet use, new developments will need to cater for the future bandwidth requirements of internet connected consumer health technology. Reliability and speed will be mandatory.
  • Again, surely an opportunity to tie a proactive provision of this technology to the lure of increased and continued independence, and confidence of family and friends.
  • If the above is the benchmark, it follows that a retirement living product that features some of these technologies integrated as standard will stand head and shoulders above the competition. Further, it allows for a brand positioning that is totally committed to the ongoing wellbeing of the buyer, actively assisting to monitor and support independent living.

These few, collected thoughts are but a drop in the ocean of opportunity that exists in the ever evolving expectations of Older Australians around engagement with digital technologies, products and services.

Thinking about how these opportunities can be capitalised to disrupt markets, or secure increased market share or demonstrate industry leadership is something we savour and enjoy.

We’d love the opportunity to have a conversation with you and understand your word. Why not get in touch. See some of our work in retirement living. Or read some more thoughts on the space.

You can request an overview of our collected thoughts on Retirement Living by contacting us today.