In general, our generation has more money to spend than the younger generations. And many of us are willing to spend money to live our best lives. A lot of us enjoy new experiences. We want to stay as active and healthy as possible. Some of us like new adventures. Many of us are also ready for new opportunities.
If you are thinking about going into business or have an existing business, I’ve got some great news for you. If you truly understand the needs, wants, and desires of individuals who are older than fifty, then your business could have a huge competitive advantage.
Two ‘Must-Read’ Books about the Needs of a Relatively Untapped Market
I am recommending two must-read books* for anyone who is interested in tapping into what can be a lucrative and often ignored market. My hope by recommending these books is (1) we’ll start seeing a shift in how older adults are portrayed in advertising and (2) salespeople will stop making assumptions about what those of us who are older need or want.
An “Opportunity Hiding in Plain Sight”
Just released (June 2020), the first book is What Retirees Want, by Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., and Robert Morison. Dychtwald is the founder and CEO of Age Wave. He has served as a fellow on the World Economic Forum and has been a featured speaker at two White House Conferences on Aging. Morrison is a researcher, writer, and management consultant and currently serves as a senior advisor with Age Wave.
Dychtwald and Morison describe the marketing potential to baby boomers in particular as an “opportunity hiding in plain sight.” These authors note that while adults 50+ spend more than any other group, only about 20% of older adults are depicted in advertising—and often in ways that are unflattering. Those who read this book will learn how diverse the retirement population really is and what different groups of retirees really want. The authors warn about making the mistake of lumping all retirees into one basket.
Loaded with Research and Market Insights
A second book I highly recommend for business-minded people is The Longevity Economy (2017) by Joseph F. Coughlin, Ph.D. Coughlin is the founder and director of the MIT AgeLab, a “multidisciplinary research program created to understand the behavior of the 50+ population…” The Wall Street Journal named Coughlin as one “one of the twelve people shaping retirement.”
Like Dychtwald and Morison, Coughlin also reveals an aging population that is not only diverse but different than previous generations of older adults. He says that older adults represent about $8 trillion as a group of consumers, and that amount, he says, is climbing. Coughlin notes that women tend to control household spending and finances and must not be ignored. According to Coughlin, “The future is female.” Women outnumber men, outlive men, and have a greater influence on purchasing decisions.
Businesses must go beyond Offering “Senior” Programs
It is not enough for businesses to start offering “senior” programs as a way to tap into the booming boomer and retirement market. Many of us don’t even like to be called seniors. Second, it is imperative that businesses offer us something we really need and want rather than what they may think we want.
Smart businesses, organizations, and educational institutions would benefit from working with older adults to research the various needs of retirees and boomers in their specific regions.
*Note: I have no financial interest in recommending either of the books I have mentioned.