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Ten tips for launching a product or service in the older adult market

Today or soon you will launch a boomer/senior, home care offering, wearable product or a new service to help seniors or other new market entrants. As your company gets ready to travel into an online event battle with a plethora of pitches, it is time for a quick review of this guidance. Check the list out before your new offering launches First read existing content and research reports on your particular market segment. Then look over this updated checklist that was first published on this website in 2010 and revised each year since. The advice continues to hold true – with updated links and references. If necessary, refine tactics to match the most useful tools for your category:

1) Is the website crisp and clear? Your company will likely be found with Google search – and you’ve thought through the words that enable getting to the site. Start with the home page that has modest and friendly graphics and images (not a ransom note with 27 different font size and colors) to identify what the product or service does or is. Remember the briefer landscape of the smartphone user.  Don't lead with fear-generating images or force the viewer to start with a video. Make sure to specify how it works, for whom, with multiple tabs for the multiple markets you are trying to reach. If you are compelled to show a video, one of actual use is best – not a testimony from an executive.

2) With every new launch, is there a press release? A single release is inexpensive on Business Wire or PRWeb -- content that will surface via newly-created Google alerts long after the launch date. Not a PDF file, not a Word file, but a viewable (online) press release with links, that will be found under your website category of PRESS, MEDIA or NEWS. Descriptive titles are a must -- multi-line titles are popular but ridiculous. To be perceived as an ongoing concern and not have viewers speculate about whether the company is still in business, a press release should be issued for every significant business change, including new executives or customers, moves to new offices, etc., with at least one in the past 3-4 months.

3) Are executives identified in 'About' the company? What's the point of keeping the identities of founders and executives a secret unless there's something to hide? This is as true of offerings that sell through resellers as those that sell direct. There is no reason to have to search Google or send e-mails to Info@XYZ - in order to find out who is running the place. Or to learn that LITTLE - is actually a subsidiary of GIANT - or to call in order to find out that the actual service is provided by another company, not identified on the website.

4) Pre-brief an industry analyst and the media. Especially if the product will be launched at an online or in-person show, briefing analysts and reporters enables the firm to refer media to the analyst to understand where the offering fits in an industry. Or the analyst can be used for press quotes that could be included in a launch press release In addition to pre-briefing, if there is a PR firm (or even if there isn’t), contact a local news site and see if they’d like to learn more about you, their home town entrepreneur – with a great new offering for them or their families.

5) Is the actual product or service going to be available near term? What’s that mean? By the official launch date, some stages of evolution are complete or within a few weeks of completion. For example, there's a working prototype (i.e. no known installation or operational defects); there are identified manufacturers; committed partners; an initial pilot is completed to validate usefulness; the pricing is clear; power requirements are clear; the software works; the product registration and installation processes have been established and validated. It's not okay -- and I would argue a waste of money – if the actual launch date is an unknown. Momentum is lost, especially if the reason for the delay is that the pilot revealed that the product needs work.

6) Software vendors -- design with market input (not your grandmother!). Prospective B2B buyers may be jaded -- they've seen many variants of software, for example, for home care services, senior housing, or non-profit segments. Although it may once have seemed that way, these are not industries ready for 'if we build it, they will come'. And I hear too many entrepreneurs say the following: "In my personal experience, my family had issues with (fill in the blank) with my own (grand)parents, therefore my offering will address those issues by (fill in the blank)." For most participants in the age-or care-related industry, a personal experience already underpins market enthusiasm. If that is a given for your company, shake it off -- validate prospective value through interviews, surveys, and demos to small groups -- before casting the solution into the concrete of release-ready code. And if you're an app vendor, test your offering with the full range of older adults, including an app to be used by people aged 75+ who may have some understandable difficulties with smartphones.

7) Service providers -- what's different, who will buy, at what price, where do they live? A reporter’s inbox can fill with "we are introducing a new service for (pick one -- finding caregivers, housing, helping families, tech support for seniors) that will be the first comprehensive guide/service to (fill in blank)". But really, there is no need to do a nationwide media launch of a service that is initially only available within a single geographic region. On the flip side, if the service is in the process of nationwide expansion, call or stay tuned – maybe your product fits into the service or ecosystem.

8) What's that product or service category, anyway? It helps those who might want to accurately position what you're doing -- and this includes press, analysts, investors, prospective partners and resellers -- to understand the category placement and not have to inquire amid a sea of obfuscation and inappropriate terminology. Is this a home health care service or a companion care service? They are licensed differently -- does the firm offer both, at different prices? Is this a tool for chronic disease management (not exactly 'wellness') or is this one for tracking a fitness regimen (sounds like wellness)? Finally, as with fall detection, is this product really a feature of other products or is it viable on its own as a solution? As with the variants of sensor-based home monitoring, is this a category that people seek, even if it is renamed IoT or SmartHome?

9) PR team, this means you. Before scheduling a briefing, please do the research in case your clients don't tell you much. In the category of baffling, I've received requests to brief me about a vendor, an offering, or a launch that is for my own client or that I've already written about or mentioned for months. Just because it's Day One for you, the PR firm, and you're excitedly new to this space, doesn't mean that your client and offerings are heretofore completely unknown. Perhaps you are helping to inform about a new release, and the news is actually new. Or it is not new, just repackaged. Just know what has preceded it -- and build upon prior activity. Anything else reflects poorly on the company that hired you.

10) As for the non-launch launch, what if market interest happens anyway? Can you offer up a customer or user to interview, can you say how your offering fits into the marketplace (current use of your product, who are other players, market size if available, and target audience)? And most important, can someone in this needy market actually buy that robotic cat? (Good answer: Yes). If you're not ready, say you're not ready. YOU know that there is a gap in your target market and your company is just the right company to fill that gap -- and potentially better, you do it with software on an existing hardware or software platform. No need to rush or launch early -- because that's the thing about an emerging market to serve an aging population. The customers will be around a long time. Let's not disappoint them.



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