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The ‘grey pound' set to hit £100bn mark

20th January 2010 Print

Older consumers have grown into a market force to be reckoned with, says Age Concern and Help the Aged, as new figures reveal the amount of money spent annually by people over the age of 65 in the UK is set to hit the £100 billion mark.

Analysing figures published in the ONS ‘Family Spending' report last week, the Charity has calculated that older people's spending reached an estimated £97billion in 2008, around 15 per cent of the overall household expenditure. Allowing for inflation and the average annual increase in the number of people in this age group, the Charity predicts that this figure is now likely to have passed the £100 billion milestone. For people aged 50 and over, the Charity calculates that the figure soared to £276 billion in 2008, making up around 44 per cent of the total family spending in the UK.

Yet despite seeing their weight in the consumer market grow as a group, older people are still at risk of being frozen out of a marketplace which is slow to adjust to the evolution of an ageing society, Age Concern and Help the Aged warns. Research by the Charity found that many older people think businesses and retailers have little interest in the consumer needs of older age groups and many still face obstacles in accessing financial services tailored to the needs of a younger audience.

Age Concern and Help the Aged is calling on businesses to wake up to the scale of the opportunity presented by older consumers and to adopt a more inclusive approach to the design of products and services. This would benefit companies in a number of ways, the Charity argues, as they would unlock a potential new revenue stream, increase their market share and improve customer relationships.

Andrew Harrop, Head of Policy at Age Concern and Help the Aged, said: "While the contribution older consumers make to the UK economy has grown over the last few years, the attention the wider business world pays to this age group has remained stubbornly low.

"Clearly older people are not a homogeneous group, as some enjoy a comfortable retirement while others scrimp and save to get by. However, these figures help to illustrate that the economic power of our older population has grown into a market force to be reckoned with.

"By sidelining older people's needs and aspirations, the market is not only persisting in a harmful ‘age-blind' attitude but is also missing a massive business opportunity."

To promote the importance of the older market, Age Concern and Help the Aged set up the engage business network. The network brings companies together to share expertise in meeting the needs and requirements of older consumers, to promote best practice and to advise on adapting business model and products for an ageing society.

To influence and help the commercial sector to recognise and factor in the needs of older people, the charity is also developing Age OK, an accreditation mark which demonstrates that a product has been designed inclusively.