Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Universal Design and Boomers

In a non-news news release from the folks at the Industrial Design Group of GE Consumer & Industrial (the appliance group), we see some good news.

Mainstream appliance makers like GE are finally realizing how the changing demographics of more older adults impacts their business. In the release, they talk about a research process they have been implementing with Carnegie Mellon School of Design to figure out how to apply "Universal Design" concepts into new product developments.

As they report: “The time has come for kitchens and homes that fit the real needs of real people—needs that will change over time.” It is their intention to be a leader in this effort. GE already has a Web site with examples of kitchens with universal design principles and appliances.

This is good news, and about time. We've talked about universal design as it relates to homes since 2004. The in-home "aging in place" business -- remodeling, retrofitting, upgrading -- is going to be a huge business over the next 20+ years as Boomers grow older and face diminishing physical capabilities.

We'll be watching for more major players to seize this opportunity.


taliamurphy said...

Finally, designers are taking into consideration the fact that making products more "user friendly" for the boomer population is a great sales tool.

Cost of living increases have made it a necessity for both parents to work and adult children are relying, more than ever before, on grandparents to help with childcare.

Steve Thomas said...

I couldn't agree more about the upcoming need for universal design homes. The time to start thinking about it is now, before you find yourself in a situation where you require alternative living conditions. My research into Universal Design made me aware of the lack of adequate housing for those who may be disabled, but it also made me aware of the possibilities for proactive measures in home construction to make them adaptable to most any situation or future need. As a result, I have redirected our business focus from traditional housing to Universal Design and "EasyLiving Homes". The "EasyLiving Home" has come to Virginia and the first one was certified in March 2008. We hope that more builders will join the effort to provide accessible and visitable homes in Virginia.

Steve Thomas
Stephen Thomas Homes

Aging in Place Guide said...

I see you cover Universal Design and Aging in Place as well as the whole boomer experience. Those subjects are my specialty. I will be doing my next blog series on boomer marketing.

Valuable Insights into the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Today's Baby Boomers

This blog is by the authors of Boomer Consumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America's Largest, Wealthiest and Most Influential Group, on sale now.

Here is where you'll find information referenced in the book, as well as updates, news and perspectives from Matt Thornhill and John Martin, founders of the Boomer Project.