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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Older adults don't fear dying... as much as living

I was working with a group of marketing consultants in Greenville, SC yesterday, on a project called Consumer DNA. When we got to the topic of retirement, I asserted that Baby Boomers are arriving at that age when they wake-up in a cold sweat, realizing how much catching-up they have to do on their retirement savings. Their greatest fear is not, “Oh, no, what if I die!?,” I explained, but rather, “Oh, no, what if I live!?” (beyond their retirement nest egg).

As if to add an exclamation point to our conversation, this morning’s USA Today features one of those classic snapshot boxes right on the front page, featuring research from Allianz. In their survey of 3,257 adults age 44 – 75, only 39% said they fear dying, and 61% fear outliving their money.

Implications: If you work in financial services or investments, what frame of mind is your consumer in, post-recession? A lot of the folks I speak with are thinking less about full-fledged “retirement” (meaning, “quitting work completely”), and have shifted their mindset to semi-retirement (having a job or hobby that pays, even a little bit, to supplement their post-career income).

For some, it’s less about how they will achieve retirement… and more about how they will manage it, perhaps using a part-time job or other income source to supplement their IRA’s, 401k’s, pension, social security, and other financial resources. For these types of people, financial planning may be less about "the ideal strategy," but rather, the realization that they just need to get started.

How is this advance planning affecting current spending behavior? Does your product or service help Boomer customers manage for the future? Are you presenting it that way? Can you help them get started?

Mike Anderson, for the Elm Street Economics consumer trends blog. A service of The Center for Sales Strategy, Inc.

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