Seniors go Klupping: An innovative solution to reduce perceived loneliness of an aging population.


Can you imagine that one of your grandparents uses Tinder? Probably a lot of people do not even want to think of the idea, nevertheless a Dutch startup does! Addressing a very relevant issue in most developed countries, a continuously aging population, Klup tries to solve a corresponding and increasing phenomenon: the feeling of loneliness.

How does it work?

At first it sounds like a controversial concept, but as soon as the intension becomes clear people understand the idea. Basically the app works similar to the well-known dating-app Tinder: a profile is based on a picture and an indication of what people are looking for. Users, called ‘Kluppers’, can determine a location-range in which they are looking for others. If another Klupper is found, the user can like this person’s profile and in case of mutual interest, the users have a match and are able to start chatting. But from this point forward, any similarity stops since Klup only focuses on connecting people for friendships, not love-affairs. In addition, users are also able to directly invite people in the vicinity for a self-organized event.

The target group of the app are seniors of 55+ that want to be active but do not have someone to share an experience with. Since the app is freely available, the founders hope to earn money in the near future by even providing premium-accounts and advertising-opportunities for companies that are content related. Because seniors are becoming more modern, applications should focus more on this group and give them the opportunity to use a smartphone.

Social relevance

Unfortunately, for a lot of elderly people it is not so easy to call a friend if they long for companionship. More shocking is the number of a whopping 1.2 million seniors that admit to feel lonely (TNS NIPO, 2012). They do not necessarily miss a loved-one, but just someone to share things with. A factor that negatively influences this issue is the digitalization of contemporary life and the segregation of elderly. Nevertheless, a study by Mallenius, et al., (2007) indicates that elderly people are interested in using mobile phones and services, but they need to deliver real value for them. This relevant value is expressed in form of a more social, active, and independent life. A keyword for them should not be age, but functionality instead. The Klup app therefore links these two phenomena.

Future perspective

Despite elderly are often neglected in product development, they are the only growing age group in most developed countries (Mallenius et al,. 2007). Therefore Klup focuses itself on the “new generation of seniors” (Wolters, 2016), since this group is used to work with mobile devices, but also on informal caregivers such as family and home-care organizations to organize social activities with their clients.

Although the platform is still relatively small, it had its first big success in Rotterdam, and is now rapidly expanding across the country. Mainly because seniors are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of modern technologies, and are successful in the adoption of touch-based user interfaces, regardless physical or cognitive weaknesses (Häikiö, et al,. 2007). In addition, the app is widely promoted on national television and via public organizations. Therefore Klup is currently busy with the modernization and extension of a new platform which will be released around April 2017. Society throws heaps of praise on this relatively new idea, and for the skeptics of mobile device-usage, this app combines the best of both worlds: an online environment facilitating offline contact.

References

Häikiö, J., Wallin, A., Isomursu, M., Ailisto, H., Matinmikko, T., & Huomo, T. (2007). Touch-based user interface for elderly users. MobileHCI ’07 (pp. 289-296). Singapore: ACM. Mallenius, S., Matti, R., & Tuunainen, V. K. (2007). Factors affecting the adoption and use of mobile devices and services by elderly people – results from a pilot study. Sixth Annual Global Mobility Roundtable, (pp. 82-94). Los Angeles .                                                                                                                                      Snel, N., & Plantinga, S. (2012). Eenzaamheid in Nederland Coalitie Erbij. Utrecht: TNS NIPO. Wolters, M. (2016, september 27). ‘Tinder’ voor senioren blijkt hit in Rotterdam. (D. v. Vliet, Interviewer)             http://www.ad.nl/rotterdam/tinder-voor-senioren-is-groot-succes-in-rotterdam~acc64449/                                               https://www.hetkanwel.net/2016/12/16/klup-app-senioren/

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