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'Youth-obsessed' UK business ignoring £250bn market

Published on 27 August 2009 11:00 PM

New research reveals that 'youth-obsessed' UK businesses are ignoring market worth £250 billion a year

As Age Concern and Help the Aged launches age-friendly accreditation - Age OK - New research1 released today from charity Age Concern and Help the Aged has revealed that the majority of older people (11.8 million or 57%) feel that businesses in the UK ignore them, focusing the majority of their attentions instead on the 'youth' market.

This is despite the fact that the Charity calculates older people's spending power to be worth an estimated £250 billion a year.

The new research comes as the Charity today launches Age OK, an accreditation that that will be awarded to products and services that the Age OK expert panels judge to be 'age-friendly'.

In order to receive the accreditation, businesses can apply to put products and services through a rigorous process that seeks to ensure the design of the product or service factors in the needs of older people.

The fact that people aged 60 and above now outnumber those aged 18 and under in the UK2 has many implications and opportunities for businesses, yet the new research reveals the true extent to which older people still feel blighted by practises that they feel alienate and fail them as consumers.

Nearly half of those surveyed, the equivalent of 9.7 million, even said that they felt UK businesses were 'youth-obsessed' with 55% (11.4 million) citing that businesses have little interest in older people's consumer needs. Furthermore 10.4 million (50%) slammed marketers, stating that, on the whole, any advertising attempting to target people aged 50+ was patronising and stereotypical.

The people surveyed were also asked to rate different business sectors in terms of their age-friendliness. The least age-friendly sector was judged by older people to be the telecoms sector, followed by the utilities sector, automotive sector and financial services. Retail businesses such as supermarkets were rated most age-friendly by older people.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age Concern and Help the Aged said: "It makes no sense for businesses to ignore a third3 of the population.

"Through the charity's engage business network, we've been working over the past couple of years to influence and inform businesses to recognise older consumers and their needs. The launch of Age OK takes this work to the next stage in encouraging and championing better age-friendly products and services. Our aim is for the accreditation to grow to become respected and widely recognised as a mark of excellence both within the business community and among older people themselves."

Joan Bakewell, the Government's champion for older people, who will be attending the launch of Age OK at the Design Museum in London on 29th April, said: "This latest research from Age Concern and Help the Aged supports what older people's own experience already bears out - that to their detriment, businesses are neglecting them, and in some cases, discriminating against them.

"It's time that businesses took a less short-sighted view and woke up to the opportunity older customers offer in terms of their bottom line, particularly in these difficult economic times. However, aside from the business opportunity, it's also imperative that they start preparing for the very necessary changes that will have to take place, across the whole of society, in order to properly meet the needs of our ageing population.

"The Age OK accreditation is a great starting point for those businesses who want to be one step ahead of this inevitable trend."

Carmel Giblin, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Accessibility at BskyB, the first winner of an Age OK product accreditation for its Sky+ inclusive remote control for digital satellite, said:

"The Age OK accreditation is fantastic recognition of our accessible remote control, which is available to all of our nine million customers free of charge. The remote control was designed in partnership with Scope, Age Concern and Ricability to ensure that through good design, we created a unique, accessible product which could really make a difference. We believe in offering our customers the best possible choice of entertainment and with that goes a dedication to ensure it is accessible to everyone."

For further information on the Age OK accreditation or the Age Concern and Help the Aged engage business network visit or call 020 7 2391867


Contact: Ellie Stanton, Age Concern and Help the Aged Media Team Tel: 0207 239 1488


1 ICM interviewed a random sample of 1035 people aged 50+ by telephone between 25th March and 3rd April 2009. Surveys were conducted across the UK and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults 50+. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at

2 Source: UK Mid 2007 population estimates, Office for National Statistics 2008

3 20,740,200 people aged 50+ out of a total population of 60,975,400 Source: UK Mid 2007 population estimates, Office for National Statistics 2008

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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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