We need to understand what ageing consumers value!

Within the ageing consumer sector, quality of care and service is paramount.  

Stakeholders within the Australian ageing consumer sector are currently eagerly awaiting upcoming government policy reforms planned for 2023, with the hope that it will include positive changes for ageing consumers.  

Many hope that reforms will include an emphasis on preserving the dignity of life at every stage and support and care for people to maintain their independence as they age, where providers assist older people to live an active and meaningful life. Likewise, there is hope that systems are more intentionally designed to reflect positive outcomes, where indicators of wellbeing are based on ‘longevity’ rather than ‘frailty’ and ‘ability’ rather than ‘disability’.  

A key part of developing positive government policy is understanding what ageing consumers value, so that it can set the direction for new policy, and guide communication strategies around policy. We need to understand what ageing consumers value! 

Where we are? 

Currently there is very little consideration given to what ageing consumers value as part of new policy and business strategies.  

While surveys are conducted with a view to better understanding ageing consumers, these are often designed to test consumer reactions to preconceived concepts of value, which are largely based on managerial judgments. These existing ‘concepts of value’ used by providers are also, to some extent, shaped by government funding as providers rely heavily on care licenses to deliver services to the market which makes them slow to respond to emerging consumer trends.  

As providers continue to struggle within this multi-faceted and complex market, changing consumer needs often remain unaddressed. However, consumers are increasingly seeking more choice and control over care services received in later life.  

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, we are transitioning through a time when in coming years, aged care shall move away from its ‘rationed model’ to an ‘entitlement model’ where empowering care recipients will be at the core.  

Understanding ‘what consumers truly value’ can help with your value proposition 

What consumers truly value, however, can be psychologically complicated and difficult to understand. There is the universal measurement of consumer perceived value, which creates opportunities for companies to improve their value design, delivery and communication for current markets or win new markets. This understanding of value is also supported by the “cognition-affect-behavior paradigm”. Practically speaking, this paradigm suggests that consumption decisions are affected by cognitive and affective components. Cognitive refers rational information processing, while affect refers to emotions and feelings. Finally, the decision is dependent on the experience of purchasing and consumption.  

Based on this understanding of value, a resident-center care model, or any ageing consumer product or service, needs to be built on an in depth understanding of consumers’ perceived value with the aim to transform organizations’ value propositions and performance criteria which will help to increase the value of the business to its customers.