You Choose

Published on in Alcove Business, News, Technology section

crazy-old-women

“Young and free” alludes to the array of choices you have when you are growing up – where you live, what you do, who your friends are, what music you listen to, places you visit and pretty much every dimension of life. Most companies targeting these customer groups realise how important choice is to people – from your Facebook profile picture to funky phone cases to named Coca Cola bottles. Customisable, flexible and most importantly personal. We have an emotional connection with our “things” because they tick our personal preference boxes.

But what happens to choice when you get older? What happens along the way that stops companies targeting older adults embracing the same business model? After all “old” is not a category that defines us (and our buying habits) – it’s just a poorly defined number. We don’t suddenly lose all sense of personal identity, taste and style after our 70th birthdays. Quick, throw away those clothes, and buy some comfortable pastel slacks with an elasticated waistband.

We are all individuals, at whatever age, and individuals each have their own likes and dislikes. At Alcove, we like:

  • Things that look great, work and are easy to use
  • Personalisation and choice
  • Delivering WOW through service
  • Can do attitudes
  • Saving money

And we dislike:

  • Pull cords and big red buttons
  • Resistance to innovation and change
  • Substandard services
  • Wasting money

So how do we offer choice at Alcove – the important first step it to acknowledge there is no one size fits all. Then give people choices at various stages:

  • Devices – which ones help solve your particular problems or address particular aspirations, e.g. I want to see my family more often, I want to be able to speak to the doctor without having to go to the surgery all the time, I am worried about falling, I must remember to take my medication, I want to have a pint with my mate Martin. YOU CHOOSE.
  • Style – colour, pattern, design of wearable and in-home devices. YOU CHOOSE.
  • People – who has access to your data? Which people do you want involved if you need help? Give your children access so they know things are ok even though they live hundreds of miles away. Who do you want to be able to call you? Who do you want to see today? YOU CHOOOSE.
  • Support –visits from care workers several times every day or just when you need them, and timed to suit you best. Call for help as and when you need it, even when you are out. YOU CHOOSE.
  • Future - your own home or expensive registered care and loss of privacy. YOU CHOOSE.

Of course there are limitations to our choices, but focusing on adapting consumer technology to customer requirements (rather than building specific “old age” products) gives us more options. Only by offering people the same level of personalisation they have grown accustomed to, can we expect people to aspire to home adaptations and purchase products and services that may best serve them as they age.