Thanks to Boomers, the fastest-growing segment of the population over the next 10 years will continue to be people age 50+. Indeed, the over-50 population will grow by 15.1 million, or nearly three times faster than people age 18-49, a segment that will grow by just 6.3 million. That disproportionate growth will affect nearly every industry. It will grow the consumer base of endemic sectors that already serve older consumers (e.g., health and finance), and it will age the consumer base of mainstream sectors. At the same time, Boomers’ consumer needs will change dramatically due to meaningful life stage transitions, and these changing needs will transform key business sectors.
Just how far-reaching will the impact be? To get a sense of the transformative effects of Boomer aging, take a look at its impact on these six key business sectors:
1. Financial Services
Every day for the last five years, 10,000 Boomers reached retirement age. Many began rolling over or collecting lump sums from their 401(k) and pension plans, creating an increased demand for financial products and services from money managers. That trend will continue over the next 14 years, with increasingly savvy consumers who learned from the recession to take a more proactive role in the managing their money. As Boomers continue to reinvent retirement, companies will succeed most by monitoring their changing needs and providing customized solutions.
2. Employment/Business Services
After retiring from full-time jobs, many Boomers continue to seek new work opportunities. The good news for Boomers is that they have significant opportunity. According to a 2014 CareerBuilder survey, 57% of private sector employers planned to hire seniors in 2015. This is creating a greater need for job placement and training services for older workers. Other retiring Boomers will start their own businesses, creating an increased need for business-related products and services.
3. Wellness & Fitness
The wellness/fitness industry has a huge growth opportunity when it comes to marketing to Boomers. A couple of years ago, the JAMA Internal Medicine issued a wake-up call when it reported that Boomers aren’t as healthy as their parents’ generation, specifically in suffering from chronic conditions that may have been prevented with better lifestyle choices. Recent research suggests they are headed in the right direction. Seven in ten currently manage their diets, and they cite a desire to improve their health as a top reason for doing so. Additionally, six in ten exercise multiple times a week. Boomers are increasingly using wearable fitness devices and health apps to monitor and improve their health. As a result, they are creating a demand for wellness and prevention products and services that will only grow as they age.
4. Brain Games
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and one in every three seniors dies from dementia. Boomers are indeed worried, and the brain fitness market has grown dramatically due to Boomer investment in games and services that aim to improve mental dexterity and brain fitness. With the most online-savvy Boomers marching toward their 60s, expect to see an even greater investment by companies providing online games and tools that help Boomers maintain mental dexterity longer.
Boomers love to travel, and retirement will give them greater flexibility to hit the road, providing growth opportunities for many in the travel industry. Indeed, the market of retirement travelers will grow by 36% over the next ten years, which will mean 8 million more retired domestic travelers and nearly 4 million more retired foreign travelers. Retired travelers spend 12% more than employed travelers on domestic vacations and 23% more on foreign vacations.
A broad range of travel marketers stand to gain, in particular, those providing luxury services, as well as cruise lines. In recent years, cruise lines have focused on building their younger consumer base, but the real growth opportunity lies in retired travelers, who are 60% more likely than employed travelers to be repeat cruisers.
6. Health Management
Boomers in their 50s and 60s, and, soon, their 70s, will increasingly need assistance managing a variety of health ailments related to aging — including high blood pressure, dry eyes, high cholesterol, hearing loss, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, overactive bladder, prostate cancer, memory loss, and dementia.
This will create a greater demand for non-physician medical professionals (e.g., nurses, physician’s assistants) to handle the overload from doctors who run out of hours to treat patients. These services will rise in popularity as a less costly alternative Boomers will use to help control healthcare costs. Additionally, prescription drug use will continue to skyrocket. Today, Boomers fill 111 million more prescriptions a year than they did just five years ago. Expect an even bigger surge as Boomers age through their 60s, 70s and beyond.
Boomers are still the largest, biggest spending generation. They are entering a phase of life where their needs will provide new and expanding opportunities across a broad range of key business sectors. Brands that keep their finger on the pulse of changing Boomer needs, and that provide products and services to meet these needs, stand to gain in a big way.