Will the elderly be the next step for the Internet?

Two of the major problems facing senior citizens, namely loneliness and mobility, have the potential to be minimized through the Internet and e-commerce with social and economic benefits.

Increasingly the topic of the elderly and retirees is on the agenda. The increase in average life expectancy, the population growth in the years following World War II (baby boomers), and the consequent growth in the number of people in so-called old age, means that this group has gained significant relevance. Analyses of the population cost, along with tragic stories of isolation and loneliness, are daily news. In Portugal alone, the number of people over 65 has already surpassed the under 15 age group and the number of people over 75 is gradually increasing.

Two of the main problems this age group faces, namely, loneliness and mobility, have the potential to be minimized through the Internet and ecommerce. However, when we search the internet for services and sites for specific segments, namely, children, heterosexuals, gays, people with colored hair, etc., we find all sorts, but if we search online for sites and services for the elderly, they are quite scarce. The reasons given are obvious: the elderly doesn’t use technology, many of the entrepreneurs in these areas are young people who don’t understand or care about this target, among others. It is time to change this situation.

Many of the services already available on the Internet, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, skype connections, online banking, Facebook, or even dating services (why not meet and socialize with other people online?) and games, make sense to be used by this segment.

What is missing? As in the marketing of all products and services, we need to understand the customer, his specific characteristics and needs. We have to make things simpler and educate consumers. Do you think it’s impossible? Even a few years ago many people argued that elderly people would not use a cell phone or an ATM machine, and today nobody is surprised anymore. In terms of usability, the solution may involve fewer buttons, fewer features, larger texts and images, and telephone support. You have to test it. Despite there being so many different tablets on the market, nobody thought of making a specific one for this target? It is necessary to educate the customer, encourage conversion, explain the advantages, and promote free trials and special discounts for this segment. These are all tools used daily to increase online sales and that can be applied to this segment.

In this time of crisis in which social support has fewer and fewer resources, companies have the opportunity to develop a new market with great economic potential along with the social function that the development of products and services can have with this age group. The true concept of sustainable business.

And until the use of the Internet by older and older people becomes something normal, I am filled with pride every time I receive a video call from my grandmother in Mexico through her iPad.

David Bernardo
David Bernardo
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