Baby boomers, good manners and statistics

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Statistics can also reveal opportunities worth billions of dollars for organisations that are smart enough to get involved — and spell doom for those who ignore basic human desires. We’re talking about statistics that deal with our ageing population.

For now, the numbers are heading up. Post-war baby boomers are front and centre and as our politicians recently discovered, this cohort can make or break a government.

The baby boomer generation captures anyone born between 1946 and 1966. Boomers and seniors as a proportion of our overall population currently sit at about 25 per cent and increasing. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in seven of us is now aged 65 years or above. If you make it to your 65th birthday party, you’ll be pleased to know that the Australian Bureau of Statistics reckons a bloke will, on average, live another 18.54 years and ladies, another 21.62.

The troubling aspect of looking at an average is that only half of us will make it. This group is savvy. For the most part they are cashed-up and have no qualms in spending it. Organisations that target this sector can make a fortune. Travel, home help, new cars, Zimmer frames and gophers, right through to retirement villages and aged care — they consume it all. But never forget that this is a generation that embraces the basic ideals of manners and respect.

Learn that and an organisation could clean up. That’s why it’s so perplexing that business and government alike seem hell-bent on making life difficult for what could be their best customers and supporters. I and co-author Louise Biti have just finished a book on care and accommodation for seniors.

We’re not idiots, but the complexities were truly mind-blowing. Fortunately, we think we’ve managed to drill through to find the key nuggets of information people need to know, but don’t underestimate the hundreds of hours it took to get there. Most of the information is available only online. Pity the poor lady in her 70s who has just lost her husband and is trying to figure it all out. Or the 80-year-old codger who shuffles his way into Centrelink and is told “do it online”.

Sure, plenty are tech savvy, but there are tens of thousands who aren’t. It often falls on the shoulders of kids and grandkids to take on the role of dealing with government. Seniors hate imposing on family this way. So here’s a message to the marketing gurus in business and government departments — in an era where technology can tell you instantly who’s calling you, how about redirecting calls to dedicated services targeting seniors?

Companies may even be able to charge an extra dollar a week just to avoid flicking grandma off to an overseas call centre. Respect these guys and you’ll probably find your satisfied customer statistics start heading up.

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