The Longevity Economy is Product Management

Carrie Shaw, Founder of Embodied Labs, Thuc Vu, Co-Founder of OmniLabs, Renee King, Founder of TechUrElders, Brian Gannon, Founder of Loop, and David Owen, COO at MyWoundDoctor, discuss their approach the building products for aging consumers and the opportunities for innovation in this large and growing market.

While everyone seems to be talking about building products for millennials, Carrie, Thuc, Renee, Brian, and David are using technologies such as augmented reality and robotics to build products for aging consumers. I met them at a demo day event hosted by AARP’s innovation lab, The Hatchery.

According to a report by AARP and Oxford Economics, there were more than 1.6 billion people in the world over the age of 50 in 2015, and this number is projected to double by 2050. AARP has branded the sum of all economic activity driven by this growing demographic as “The Longevity Economy.” The Longevity Economy fosters about $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity.

This is a huge market opportunity for product managers, but building products for these consumers doesn’t come without challenges. Carrie warns that “technology is not a panacea or a solution in it of itself.” You need a human factor to make the technology accessible. Put simply, the best products provide solutions, not just technology. But these solutions also can’t be seen in isolation. Renee says that solutions need to be integrated with the health-tech ecosystem so that people aren’t forced to juggle too many products.

Thuc says that as long as you’re mindful of their concerns, seniors are actually quite excited about using new technology. The concerns of seniors are not always the same as those of the general population. Thuc notes that for seniors, privacy is a major concern. Based on these insights,  his team redesigned their robots to face the wall when not in use.

David, Carrie, Thuc, Brian, and Renee recommend observing users first-hand, building prototypes and iterating based on feedback, and being mindful of the unique needs of aging consumers.

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about the longevity economy, user research, and healthcare technology.

Here are the highlights:

  • The marketing opportunity that the growth in the number of aging consumers presents for innovators (9:38)
  • The challenges of building products for the longevity economy (14:05)
  • The product strategies that have helped these entrepreneurs grow their companies (17:10)

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