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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Generational Economics: New Age Seniors

Marketing Observation:  Once upon a time, you might have referred to people age 60-69  as “upper demos.”  But that is an outdated notion, one that has not kept up with the changing face of demography, at least in the industrialized parts of the world. Here’s why I say that:

Fifty or sixty years ago, life expectancies were different than they are now.  People often retired from their careers at 62 to 65 years old… and then enjoyed life for a few years before their health began to deteriorate (or they just plain tipped over).  Now, life expectancies are much, much longer—approaching eighty years old—and of course many people are living into and through their 90s and beyond.  These longer lifespans are having a dramatic effect on how we’re living life, especially after age sixty.

Retirement savings have to last a lot longer.  So we’re finding that “retirement” rarely means, “the end of employment.”  For folks in their 60s, it often means quitting the job they’ve always had to have—for economic reasons—so they can take the job they’ve always wanted to have.  Someone who has worked in a confined space for a lot of years might decide to find a job where they can get out and meet people.  Others take a position that lets them fulfill a passionate interest or hobby.  In fact, the concept of “retirement” is making way for the idea of “re-hirement.”  And to the New Age Senior, that return to the workforce serves two purposes.  First, it can be an important supplement to a retirement savings plan that simply has to last longer than it might have, say, fifty or sixty years ago (retirement will last longer than it did back in the fifties for most people). 

But also, the right job can be a source of stimulation and self-actualization for the New Age Senior.  Just realize that their motives for wanting to work might be different now than they were during an earlier career.  Changing jobs can actually be seen as a way of, “giving back.”

Marketing Implications:  Whether you want to sell financial products and services to people who are re-thinking what retirement means, or goods to help people get established in “Career 2.0,” there is a tremendous amount of opportunity in targeting consumers in their 60s.  They still want to travel, spoil grandkids, and play golf.  But they’re looking for ways of fitting all those activities (and more) into a lifestyle that is busier than generations before them at this age.  They’re very health-conscious, eager to stay active, and more technologically savvy, too.

Is this a group of consumers you’d be smart to reconsider, or consider in new ways?

Mike Anderson, for The Marketing Mind consumer trends blog, service of The Center for Sales Strategy.  

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