Targetting an ageing populace

I FEEL better knowing that I am not the only person in WA who feels older. According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, there has been a surge in the number of people aged 85 and over in WA, with women outnumbering men by more than two to one.

In the 12 months to June 2000, this group of people experienced an increase of 5.6 per cent and 31 per cent for the five years to that date. On that date there were twice as many women as there were men, which is, of course, a reflection of the greater life expectancy of women.

In the 65 and over age group, the numbers rose by 2.3 per cent in WA in the year to June 2000. This compares with the national figure of 1.7 per cent for the same period. In WA, this group accounts for 11 per cent of the State’s population.

Despite the fact that represents a smaller proportion of the population than either children aged up to 14 years (21 per cent) or the “working population” aged 15-64 years (68 per cent), they do constitute the fastest growing age group in the State. This is a further reflection of increase life expectancy rates and a declining total fertility rate. Interestingly, the largest proportions of the people aged 65 years and over were found in the lower south-west corner of the State.

Both the Lower Great Southern and the South West Statistical Divisions had 13 per cent of their population fall into this category. The northern regions of Pilbara and Kimberley had only 2 per cent and 4 per cent of their respective population in this age group.

When you examine the statistical local area level, the highest concentration of people aged 65 and over occurred in Tammin and Albany central and in the older established areas of Perth, notably Claremont and Victoria Park. In these areas, the proportion of people in this category was more than 18 per cent.

What does this mean for the business community? With an ageing population, businesses need to ensure that their product is appropriate for the consuming population. Adaptations of the product to suit an ageing population are vital. If we had a product that was designed for the older population, perhaps locating our business in the areas of Perth that has a greater proportion of that ageing population is essential.

These are all factors that business needs to take into account when making their decisions as to the product that we produce, the service that we offer as well as the location of our business.

This columnist is aware of a radio station that has deliberately worked at changing its listening audience from an older age group to one that is much younger. It would seem that, based on the information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this would be a retrograde step.

Time will tell whether this is a good business move or one that is fraught with difficulty.

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