The new age opportunity businesses can’t ignore

Businesses that do not recognise the opportunity and buying power of older Australia do so at their own peril, according to an expert in the emerging demographic.

Global Centre for Modern Ageing CEO Julianne Parkinson. Picture: Andrew Beveridge.

Global Centre for Modern Ageing CEO Julianne Parkinson. Picture: Andrew Beveridge.

Globally, the number of people aged over 65 is projected to double to more than 1.5 billion by 2050.

In 2020 the total spending power of people aged 65-plus globally was estimated to be $11.6 trillion in Australian dollars. That is estimated to reach $19.4 trillion in the next decade.

The Global Centre for Modern Ageing opened its doors at Tonsley in April 2018 and is responding to the ageing phenomenon in South Australia, Australia and more broadly overseas.

“We would argue that for business if you’ve got a five or a 10-year plan and you’re not looking at this market carefully to investigate growth avenues, it may well be a significant lost opportunity,” founding CEO Julianne Parkinson said.

“In many ways this is a new growth market that has never existed so don’t be slight in your investigation around it.

“Australian companies doing this well also have enormous opportunities in the Asian market to adapt what they do here and distribute to much larger populations that share the same issues that we are grappling with.”

The not-for-profit organisation partners with businesses, governments and universities to better understand the changing needs and wants of older people. It is already working with partners on iconic projects around Australia and in Israel, Singapore and Hong Kong.

It is also collaborating with a diverse range of businesses from medical information database MedicAlert through to Google.

The Tonsley site includes a “Life Lab”, which is a simulation studio that allows the testing of ideas, prototypes and then products out to market that are aimed at older consumers.

In 2021 Australia had a population of 4.2 million aged over 65. That’s forecast to go to 5.5 million by 2031, 6.6 million by 2041 and to 7.5 million by 2051.

Parkinson said the centre had tripled in size to about 18 staff since 2018 but its growth was potentially better reflected by the significant number of other organisations it had connected with, including the three major SA universities.

“The opportunities are not just about the numbers of older people but it’s their changing behaviours as well,” she said.

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“The trends show eight in 10 people wanting to stay in their homes as long as possible and if they do move, they want the transition to be smooth and they’d like it to feel as much like home as possible.

“There are big market opportunities in age-tech at home and the supply chain that goes with that – the installation, the after sales service, the support programs in education, health, food and nutrition and entertainment.

“This is no longer limited to an aged care sector response, this is an opportunity for most businesses in most sectors to play a role from transport to retail to education, hospitality etc.”

Parkinson will feature on a panel of SA business leaders next week to launch the 2021 BDO SA State Business Survey.

She said she hoped the survey results would provide an indication of how many businesses had the ageing demographic on their radar.

“I hope the survey creates new conversations inside organisations no matter what their size that says ‘We have a curiosity to understand the older market and see what role we can play to support them and in turn grow our company with confidence to 2030 and beyond’,” she said.

Each year, the BDO SA State Business Survey gathers the views, concerns and ideas of the state’s business community.

The 2021 BDO SA State Business Survey will launch with a hybrid event on September 16, including live audience polling and commentary from the panel of business leaders.

Moderator Nikki Govan will be joined by Parkinson, Jennifer Lynch (McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association), James Packham (Harcourts Packham), and David Fechner (BDO) to discuss the issues facing South Australian business now and into the future.

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