Barrier-Free Showers & Bath Safety Products
HME providers can deliver the promise of independent living through innovative bath products and effective sales
~ by Tammy Harris ~
Bath systems have come of age. Innovative designs, new materials and even academic rigor have contributed to a broad range of bathing solutions that can fit the needs of practically everyone, regardless of physical ability. From grab bars to elevated baths, design and artistry have transformed the merely functional into attractive fixtures that complement any home décor or lifestyle. And this change couldn’t be more timely.
A seismic demographic shift is taking place in America. The first of 78 million Baby Boomers have hit retirement age. Better health care and improved living conditions are extending the lives of these retirees, but at a cost. Trends such as “aging in place” aim to defer the move to expensive care facilities by focusing on ways to keep seniors in their own homes longer. Cost-effective upgrades—from the addition of a safety bar to an accessible shower—can enable a homeowner to adapt to the changes imposed by age while remaining safe, secure and independent.
Understanding the Target Audience
From a marketing standpoint, not all seniors are alike. Members of the “Greatest Generation” are reluctant to spend money on change, even if that change improves safety in their home and ensures their continued independence. For this audience, the message is value. However, it’s also important to keep in mind the key influencers for this audience: their adult children, usually women 55 to 65 years of age, who serve as part-time caregivers. For them, safety and peace of mind go hand in hand.
Baby Boomers are another story. They see themselves as change agents. Consequently, innovation is highly sought after. In most cases Boomers are willing to pay a little more for what they consider to be the latest and greatest technology. While declining home prices and persistent economic uncertainty have made Boomers more cautious about their spending, we can expect their enthusiasm for the new to return as the economy improves. Even so, older Boomers are likely to make “value” a respectable purchase consideration.
Design for Every Ability & Pocketbook
Best Bath Systems works with specialists in the field, talented designers and skilled craftsmen to execute products that exceed industry standards for safety, durability and performance. More than that, we invest in technology to make essential products like the following even better.
Barrier-free showers—Barrier-free or no-threshold showers are the preferred solution for consumers who are no longer able to safely negotiate a standard shower or walk-in tub. Look for models that include nonslip pans and shower walls that are strong enough to support the addition of safety features such as a seat and grab bars. Tile is attractive and a favorite with consumers. However, it’s expensive and time-consuming to install and difficult to keep clean. Multiple-piece composite showers, on the other hand, are easy to install and maintain.
Grab bars—Ensuring user safety is a fundamental concern. No matter what the age or physical ability, the addition of one or more grab bars in the bathroom offers greater safety for a comparatively low price. Best Bath Systems has “raised the bar” on bathroom safety by expanding our product offering to include Great Grabz, a premium line of grab bars. These handsome bars are ergonomically designed, easy to install and offer the right measure of protection. Most importantly, they appeal to the aesthetic sensibility of the Baby Boomer demographic. This is the perfect lead-in product for the HME provider to address safety in the bathroom.
Walk-in tubs—Walk-in tubs remain popular with consumers who enjoy the bathing experience but want a safer alternative to the standard tub. Today’s market is awash in imports. Pricing pressures make it extremely important to educate consumers so they understand what their dollars are and are not buying, especially with regard to post-sale service and support.
Elevated tubs—Elevated tubs are a recent response to the accessibility needs of consumers who are unable to use the standard walk-in tub. This category includes Best Bath’s new ADL Spa, which provides the ultimate bathing experience for home or care facility environments. With its elevated height of 20 inches and unique sliding door design, this full-size bathtub offers both ease of use and contemporary styling.
Show, Sell, Service
Profitability in this market starts by identifying opportunities. Home health-care providers are in the unique position of understanding the physical condition of the resident as well as the status of the home environment, and this information could generate a valuable sales lead.
Promote the idea of creating an in-store product destination. While telling is selling, showing moves consumers from awareness to purchase. Erecting a barrier-free shower, flanking the assembly with colorful grab bars and offering targeted product collateral can transform any showroom into an immersive brand-building experience that drives sales.
Finally, maintain a list of approved vendors who can execute a product installation correctly the first time and every time. An improper installation can easily overshadow a fine product and satisfying purchase experience.
Best Bath Systems, through its products and marketing, has made a significant contribution to the maturing of this industry. However the true beneficiaries of this change are the consumers. Seniors, regardless of their physical ability, now have the bathing options to turn their dream of independent living into a reality.
About the author:
Tammy Harris, marketing director for Best Bath Systems, has more than 25 years of consumer marketing experience, focusing the last five years on marketing bath products to seniors. A specialist in “aging in place” trends, she conducts marketing training for Best Bath dealers nationwide. Best Bath Systems is a privately held Idaho company that designs and manufactures innovative bathroom solutions for people of all abilities. Learn more at www.best-bath.com.