Selling Safety in the Bath

A growing consumer demographic will always bring an opportunity for increased sales, and that's certainly the case for the world's fastest-growing demographic - older consumers. According to the National Institute on Aging, the United States population age 65 and over is expected to double in size within the next 25 years. By 2030, almost one out of every five Americans - some 72 million people - will be in that group, with the fastest-growing segment reaching 85 and older.

Safety in the bath is an important issue for these consumers, and with good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than a third of older adults in the U.S. fall each year. And falls are the leading cause of death, injury and hospitalization for that age group.

Safety in the bath is an important issue

In denial?

But while older buyers know how important safety is, most don't want to think too much about the possibility of injuries when making decisions about remodeling their home.

They also don't want to be reminded that they're getting older. "The term 'aging in place' is very descriptive, but at the same time it's very difficult to market," says Bill Slease, a universal design builder in McKinney, Texas. Instead, you need to find language that works for you and your customers. Slease emphasizes the beauty, the style and the enhanced functionality of his baths, and positions safety as an added benefit that the customer can feel good about if a loved one (in other words, anyone but themselves) ever needs it. "I tell them the space can be beautiful without sacrificing functionality," he says.

explain the importance of safety in the bathroom

Beauty and safety can go together

Mike Weiss, a retired general contractor from Carmel, Ind., was chair of the National Remodelers Council the year it introduced the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) certification, and now teaches CAPS certification courses. "Safety only appeals to someone after an accident or a near brush," he says. Even then, he says, the key is finding products that don't look institutional.

Both Weiss and Slease point to Moen's SecureMount™ Installation System, which features an innovative D-shaped anchor that makes it possible to quickly, easily and securely install a stylish grab bar anywhere on the wall, with one stud or no studs.

Beauty and safety can go together

Slease and Weiss also recommend taking a second look at lighting and flooring. Upgraded lighting adds beauty and functionality - and helps cut down on tripping hazards, medication errors and shaving accidents.

Textured tile floors, curbless showers and shower floors tiled with river rock can give a bath the appearance of a high-end spa while reducing the risk of slips and falls. "It never can be slip-proof, but it can be a much better finish, and it can be absolutely gorgeous," Slease says.

The bottom line? "We don't have to diminish functionality to achieve beauty," says Slease. "They're not mutually exclusive."

Upgraded lighting adds beauty and functionality