An aging society means that the elderly who are over 65 years old account for more than 7% of whole population. As for China, the number reaches 8.87% in the sixth national population census. However, the city and its communities grew in rapid urbanization are not designed for the senior citizens to enjoy. Though their life quality is improved dramatically, they are still in lack of easy access to products/services that are good for their physical and mental health. Made the situation worse, many of the elderly live alone while their children work far away. What services shall we provide to keep them health, active and happy? How we can deliver these services? How to make it financially sustainable? In search of a possible answer, the team made with students from both China and Netherlands and start the exploration.
What could be the right and profitable service in aging communities?
Research and Insights
We choose a residential community located very close to city center of Hangzhou as the sample. Hangzhou is one of China's largest cities and is still expanding. The community we choose is a good stand of many communities constructed decades ago as suburbs residential areas and later swallowed by urban life during the massive expansion and modernization of Hangzhou. That's part of the reason around 80 percent of the residents there are aged above 60.
We conduct interviews and ask our research objects keep diary with our templates. However, as a group of younger generation, it is hard to get a accurate insight of the seniors, since it's hard for them to express with accurate alignment to their true life, especially in a unfamiliar research setting environment. Also, many of the senior citizens had less opportunities of getting education, which makes the communication harder.
So we also take a different approach by using EDL research method. After spending times with some senior citizens, we gained their and their families' permission of tracking their daily life. We lend them smartphones with GPS tracking software and ask them to carry in pocket. Also, team member will show up in certain time and video recording their outdoor activities.
Later, we matched these data with interview and diary records to get a more clear picture of their daily life.
After rounds of researches, we've been able to summarize some key insights about the aging group:
1. Grocery shopping is the most common daily activities. Sometimes it's the only reason to step out of the door;
2. They care very much about their health and are eager to learn related knowledges;
3. Group competition activities such as chess, communication of interests and hobbies are good ways to keep them active;
5. While having the ability to pay, they are very sensitive to price;
4. Their sons and daughters very much want to pay for their parents to enjoy nutritional food and good service, but currently they can not achieve that without commute;
5. They are eager to use modern technologies to communicate more with their children, but they don't how and they don't want make it a hassle to their children.
There is no trouble to package the services that the senior citizen want, but we need a vendor to deliver. So we combine traditional relaxing place: tea bar with a new kind of membership grocery store, to create a new space for senior citizens to enjoy. We name it BrownHouse. A business model including a co-pay system is designed to make the offering profitable and sustainable. We also created floor plan template for the space to insure a cozy environment and the facilitation to different services.
The co-pay system: the younger generation pay for the membership and manage the online account of the elderly. The elder enjoy discounted grocery shopping and additional services (including health consultation, diet plan, entertainment, assisted video call, etc.). Meanwhile, the sons and daughters can view the data generated and interpreted from elders’ activities in BrownHouse.
Service Flow Storyboard
To illustrate the whole experience, we act and make a storyboard in our studio.