Seniors’ Design Choices Seen Reflecting ‘Optimism’

OTTAWA, CANADA - Today’s senior citizens are looking forward to an active and healthy retirement, and the choices they will be making about their home’s location, design and upgrades reflect that optimism, a newly released study has found.

The study, conducted by the Internet Home Alliance Research Council, a network of leading consumer product and service companies serving the home technology market, explores attitudes that Americans over the age of 50 have about housing.
The study was a cross-industry collaboration involving Internet Home Alliance Research Council members Whirlpool Corp., Aqua Glass Corp., American Shower & Bath Corp., AT&T, Delta Faucet Co., Echelon Corporation, KraftMaid Cabinetry, Merillat Industries, Milgard Windows & Doors and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). All are affiliated with the Ottawa, Canada-based Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA).

In terms of home features, seniors are designing and selecting their homes to “remain active, engaged and in touch,” CABA researchers report.

The study found, for example, that more than half (63%) of seniors have home offices in their new homes. Seventy percent have broadband Internet access at home and 45% have WiFi access. In two-thirds of the homes, builders have installed wiring for computer networking. Fewer than 10% of the surveyed homeowners have no Internet access.

The survey respondents “clearly expect to enjoy their homes and have selected features that will help them work and play with ease,” the study further notes.

Virtually all of the surveyed homeowners reported they have laundry rooms and about half (49%) have what they consider a “gourmet kitchen.” Much less common are home theaters (10%) and exercise rooms (8%). Central audio exists in only 29% of the homes.

“What the study results reveal is that today’s seniors are living full, healthy lives, have no intention of slowing down and want their homes to help them maintain their independence and connection to the world,” says Tim Woods, v.p. of CABA’s Internet Home Alliance Research Council.

“Seniors are designing homes and choosing upgrades that will let them stay fully engaged with friends and family,” Woods notes. “Hubs of activity, whether in the form of a gourmet kitchen for entertaining or a home office with broadband or wireless technology, are essential.”

Over the past few years, consumer product and service companies have come to recognize the value of the mature market due to its size and buying power. Based on the latest estimates, about one-quarter of all U.S. residents – or some 80 million consumers – are aged 50 and older. In this roughly 80 million-strong market, about half is consumers ages 65 and older; the other half is comprised of Baby Boomers ages 51 to 64.

“The Baby Boomer market is especially attractive,” Woods says. “There is a concentration of wealth and a willingness to spend money on themselves and their pursuits, and this market’s narrow age range is well suited to targeted advertising and marketing campaigns. This group can also expect a longer life and better health and mobility than previous generations.”

“The [results show] that while seniors are confident and secure today, as they look ahead they can identify areas in which simple choices in home design and construction will help them live safely and independently for years to come,” says David Swift, president of Whirlpool North America.

“With these results, we can now identify innovations that will allow us to continue to meet the needs of this very important segment of the population,” Swift adds.