In the past 12 months, we have come across a few interesting European companies that are reimagining the way older people learn and socialise. We believe in this market opportunity and want to contribute by sharing our thoughts to walk through: (a) why we believe in this space, (b) our understanding of the early players and (c) where we believe there are opportunities, with the hope of investing in the near term.

(a) This new market is pushed by several macro drivers

I) Ageing European Population

The European population is aging, driven by increased life expectancy and lower fertility rates (source). Today ~30% of the population (~90m people) is >55 years-old and by 2050, this age class will represent ~42% of the total population (140m people) (source - pages 18, 19). In Europe, ~4.5k people will turn 65 every day between 2021 and 2030, driven by increased life expectancy. In France alone, there were 16.7m retired people in 2019 (~25% of the total French population) and on average, France is seing ~720k new people retiring every year. (source)

II) “New generation” of older adults is digitally connected

The new generation of 65+ is digitally connected and willing to engage in and pay for online activities. Interestingly, the behaviours of this population who use internet have changed considerably between 2009 and 2020. This research (social life section) shows that the adoption of the following three activities have dramatically increased:

The elderly population is clearly increasing its digital skills and presence. This is mainly driven by the increasing number of people with digital skills passing into older age (i.e. ”adults with digital skills who are becoming older adults”).

III) Spending behaviours and increased income

The median equivalised net income (i.e income after tax and deductions) for older adults in Europe grew by 18% between 2012 (€14.1k/year) and 2020 (€16.7k/year) (source) and the value of old-age pension benefits also rose overall by 25 % on the same period (2012: €1Tr vs. 2020: €1.32Tr) (source). In the US, older people tend to spend more on certain categories such as travel ($3,431 / year) and food ($2,090 / year) according to research by Epsilon (page 7) Entertainment ($761 / year) and education ($183 / year) are the third and fourth leading categories. While we couldn’t find similar studies for European adults, we can assume that these US spending behaviours generally reflect the same behaviours of Europeans.

IV) New online habits and COVID effect

According to a recent study done by Google in the UK, “a majority of online seniors spend at least six hours a day online and own an average of five devices.” ****These older adults go online for different reasons: staying in touch with friends/family (91%), managing their finances (87%) and improving their health/wellness (73%). We believe that the COVID-19 situation was a forcing function for older adults to go online and interestingly, their new habits are clearly here to stay. In the same study, a total of 70% of seniors say that they will spend at least the same amount of time online in the next few years.

V) Increasing age of retirement

The normal age of retirement in Europe is being pushed up by most countries to 65 years old, which is forcing workers to stay in the workforce longer (source). The workers must pay contributions to pension schemes over a longer period of time in order to be able to retire.

Three founders in the space offered their perspectives on the market:

Alex, cofounder and CEO of Mirthy:

“Just as globalisation and technology changed how people lived and worked, longevity will do the same over the coming years as we live much longer lives. The classic three stage life made up of 'education, work, retirement' will need to be reinvented as the number of years spent in retirement stretches significantly. I believe there is going to be even more of a need to generate income in retirement, coupled with the renewed sense of purpose lost from the work stage.”

Hannah, Founder CEO of The Joy Club:

“There’s a macro driver around the changing role of older people in society. Throughout the course of human history, older adults have been respected and considered as the experts as they would pass down methods of e.g. making textiles and weapons, help rear children and grandchildren and would hold social history in their memories. Other society members would go to them for wisdom and advice. But now - in many societies - we have Google to answer our questions, family members aren’t necessarily living close by and older people have lost their historic place in our social groups. So, how should older people feel connected and who should they connect to? How can they get a sense of purpose? How can they share their wisdom and skills in a way that is meaningful to them?”