Sunday, September 16, 2012

A macabre game of perpetual snakes and ladders

I was recently talking with somebody who was in the process of structuring an event to look at the older-market and its business potential.

Part of me is glad that more people are doing this but part of me sighs, as I encounter another group of well intentioned people who are starting the process of re-inventing the wheel. It is like some macabre  game of perpetual snakes and ladders. Groups of well intentioned people get together - expend a lot of energy (and money) - make a bit of progress - the venture loses momentum and dies - along comes another group that go back to the beginning and do it all again.

I concluded the conversation by highlingting a few 'givens' that it worthwhile understanding and that will save a lot of time and frustation. I hope they are taken on board. Somehow I doubt it.

Fact There is much muddled thinking about 'older market'. Few companies, less universities and almost no government departments understand the span of consumers and the range of needs it covers. Most of the time is spent going around talking about the same issues that result in nice reports that nobody reads.

Fact It is pointless focusing on the product in the absence of understanding the limitations/opportunities of the distribution channels. For example, there is a mountain of great bits of technology that can be applied to care and health but is worthless because of the limitations (a very polite way of putting it) of the NHS.

Fact Because of the budgetary constraints that will dominate the US and Europe for the foreseeable future it is vital that any new ventures look to the markets of AsiaPac. It is pointless just taking a regional or national perspective.

Fact Companies and academics rarely consider the available market compared with the total market. For instance, I estimate that in the UK, wellness related products probably are only relevant to around 20% of the over-60s. The instant that the 'project' starts getting obsessed with being inclusive and all of the other stuff that is much loved by politicians it is doomed.

Dick Stroud

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