Demographics: A trend toward 'gray'

During Packaging World’s Media Day held in Chicago July 21, editor Patrick Reynolds’ Trends in Packaging presentation included a section highlighting demographic trends.

Key among the trends is a growing percentage of the world population reaching age 65 and older. Data from Scientific American indicates the following:

  • 1900: 1% of the global population is projected to have been over 65.

  • 1992: 6.2% of the global population is projected to have been over 65.

  • 2050: 20% of the global population is projected to be over 65.

    How can packagers leverage this shift to their advantage? First, they need to reexamine the old marketing chestnut that if you capture them while they are young, they will be yours for life. New technologies, corporate breakups and mergers, and the simple fact that people live so much longer--all of these bring us to a new way of seeing things:

    Focus excessively on the young for marketing and sales and you miss out on where the real money is--the growing older market. Be aware of the following strategies:

  • Senior friendly, child resistant

  • Universal Design

  • Portability--and make discrete for consumers’ privacy

  • Product information: literature is too dense and wordy, and in ‘governmentese’ language

    Another trend that meets “gray market” requirements is electronic compliance packaging, ECP. A package technology that addresses the above strategies is MeadWestvaco’s Cerepak, which uses circuits in a blister pack to record events.

    Another is Rex, the talking pill bottle, designed especially for sight-impaired users. Users push a button on the bottle and hear prescription info including drug quantity, usage direction, side effects, and the number of pills remaining. (Rex will be highlighted in the September issue of Packaging World in the feature “Packaging delivers for pharmaceutical and medical firms.”)

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