9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN01 Ageing in Europe

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Ageing and Technology 1 Building II, C5.08

Ageing people as innovators in senior service markets

Ageing of the population is such a powerful megatrend with many challenges and opportunities that it cannot be ignored when designing the future service structure. Getting old brings along many losses, for example decline of functional ability, but old age is also described as an active, autonomous and independent time of life, where people maintain their previous life-style or even engage in new activities. Today´s ageing people are healthier and wealthier, and they can be considered as a notable consumer group with many hopes and needs. In the future, ageing customers are likely to be increasingly demanding payers of services that they consume. This is why it is argued to be vital to include ageing people in planning products and services.

This paper investigates ageing people as innovators in senior service markets. The central research question is: what are ageing people like as innovators? The research case is called "the well-being centre concept for the elderly". The idea in this case was to develop the service concept of a foundation providing homes for the elderly that was thought to be outdated and no longer corresponding to needs of future customers of the foundation in question. The research data were collected using a website where various types of participants were able to generate ideas focusing on five different elements: (i) living and restaurant services, (ii) well-being, (iii) daily activity, (iv) rehabilitation services, and (v) living environment. The biggest group among the 45 respondents were the elderly, who were retired and already using or would soon be using similar housing services. Other respondents were students of design, experts from the public and third sectors, and representatives of the foundation itself.

Studies related to "third age" and productive ageing as well as user-driven innovation theories form the theoretical background of this study. The results show that ageing people had a positive attitude towards participating in the service innovation process, when given a chance to do so. They generated ideas actively and were more committed to the development process than the other groups. Ageing people thus have a lot to give as service innovators.