The trend of Silver Economy encapsulates specialized demands and needs from a growing elderly population as populations around the world progressively age. This trend also includes support and services for older workers in supply chain operations.
By 2030, the number of people aged 60 years and above will grow globally to 1.4 billion, outnumbering the total of children aged under 10 years. While a significant proportion of this senior demographic category originally came from Europe and North America, it is projected that 5 times more people in this older segment will come from outside these two regions by 2050. Recognizing the changing face of the global population, industries around the world have begun distinguishing the needs of older people as workers and consumers from those of younger people, creating a specialized but sizable market in its own right – the silver economy.
As waves of experienced supply chain leaders and operational staff retire, organizations risk a brain drain of time-acquired ‘tribal knowledge’ in an environment of growing labor shortages. Logistics organizations are beginning to act to retain elderly employees with valuable long-tenured experience. Meanwhile, retailers are increasingly targeting the older consumer, and supply chains are adapting to handle more bespoke products and services.
The number and percentage of people globally aged 60 and above will increase between now and 2050.
Relevance to the Future of Logistics
- Technology-Enabled Support in the Workplace
- Flexible Workplace Policies
- Elderly-Centric Customer Experience
- Last-Mile Value-Added Services
- Senior Product Flow
Employees in supply chain workplaces must always be mentally aware and often perform physically laborious tasks. This can be taxing on minds and bodies with the increasing average age of the workforce. New computer and robotic products and services can empower and encourage older workers to continue working in supply chains by improving health and safety while also reducing physical and mental stress.
Technologies like exoskeletons and teleoperated driving can reduce the risk of physical injury, while other digital support systems like augmented reality (AR) smartglasses and artificial intelligence (AI)-managed dashboards can reduce memory and cognitive demands. By supporting older employees in their tasks, supply chain organizations can retain long-tenured talent.
Supply chain workers, especially those in operations, often have arduous shifts and contracts that may not be a good fit for those who are older and considering retirement. As much knowledge can be lost when an employee retires, organizations can stop this brain drain by reviewing and reforming work policies to accommodate older employees.
Senior worker support packages, such as flexible hours and part-time employment, can help retain retiring talent in an era of labor shortages. With these accommodating policies, time-experienced employees can still support their colleagues and, in particular, extensively share their valuable knowledge and skills.
With communities aging around the world, B2C logistics and delivery businesses must consider senior needs as part of the customer experience, especially in the digital realm. Recently, retailers and digital marketplaces have released ‘elderly-friendly’ versions of their apps, with less crowded interfaces, bigger text, navigation shortcuts, and digital connections with family to share products and manage expenses.
With more than 6 in 10 of today’s seniors in some countries owning a smartphone (and this is likely to increase in the future), B2C logistics players need to adapt and incorporate changes to accommodate and meet the expectations of older customers along the entire supply chain – from order placement to last-mile delivery – or risk losing market share to age-friendly competitors.
The lockdown policies of the COVID-19 pandemic cultivated the diversification of traditional delivery services with the aim of supporting the older population. With many senior citizens unable to leave their homes and restricted in their daily activities, businesses and governments collaborated to ensure they still received essential goods at home.
To lower the risk of virus exposure, pharmacies, grocery stores, and other businesses started offering contactless home deliveries. While lockdowns and other restricting policies have mostly been removed, last-mile services are anticipated to continue expanding beyond food and product delivery. In-home medical check-ups, home cleaning, transportation services, tech support, and auto-replenishment of goods such as medicines are speculated value-added last-mile services to be tested in the mid-term future.
As the purchasing power of elderly consumers grows, the consumer market landscape is shifting towards the preferences of an older population. For example, European Commission reports predict substantial increases in demand for products and services in connected health, smart home solutions, wearable technology, age-friendly education, and silver tourism in the coming decades. Demand for common medical and pharmaceutical products like medication, wheelchairs, and prosthetics are also anticipated to rise.
Logistics organizations need to adequately prepare operationally for the gradual increase of these products in the supply chain and the challenges this will present, especially as providers begin offering more personalized products and bespoke services to older customers.
This trend should be ACTIVELY monitored, with imminent developments and applications.
The full impact of the Silver Economy trend in supply chain workplaces and marketplaces has yet to materialize. However, as global demographics continually move toward higher ages and as more people retire, we here at DHL see this trend maturing soon, with businesses taking active steps to retain older talent and attract senior customers.
Need support prioritizing high impact trends for your business?
Request a complimentary Trend Radar Mapping session at your regional DHL Innovation Center and prepare for the future today.Request a Session
- UBS (2020): China’s silver economy
- Pew Research Center (2022): Share of those 65 and older who are tech users has grown in the past decade
- European Commission (EC) (2018): The Silver Economy
- World Health Organization (WHO) (2019): Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020-2030