When you conjure up a memory of your grandparents’ home, what springs to mind? Is it the sweet smell of cookies in your grandmother’s kitchen? Perhaps it’s the sound of the radio in the garage as you helped your grandfather work on one of his projects. Eventually, the family grew older. Grandma and Grandpa moved out of their house and went to Florida or took up residence in a retirement community.
For the children of today, the experience of their grandparents’ house has changed in one significant way — Grandma and Grandpa are living in that house longer than ever before. Rather than move to a new residence as they age, Boomers and seniors are opting to stay in their own homes as long as they can. With the advent of in-home medical devices, home health aides and other visiting nurse services, individuals are now able to remain in their homes for many more years than was previously possible. Childhood memories are now teenage memories, and in some cases, even 20- and 30-something memories!
Because of this trend, Boomers and seniors are impacting the economy in several ways. The first, and probably most obvious, is that Boomers and seniors aren’t selling their homes. This has had major consequences in the real estate sector, as younger generations are being forced to stay in long-term rental agreements or turn to newly constructed homes, which usually cost more.
Related to this trend are the changes in the construction trade, where Boomers are actively engaging in upgrading and remodeling their homes later in life. At this stage, they find themselves having better financial resources to improve their living space instead of moving to an all-new home. This becomes a contributing factor for retirement community marketers as well. Their biggest competition isn’t a competitor offering the same services they do; rather, they are competing directly with the home a potential customer is already in — a tough prospect, indeed.
In response to these trends, retirement marketing operators are changing and adapting their models. Rather than just offering a new home or apartment, they’ve begun building resort-like campuses, filled to the brim with amenities, such as pools, fitness centers, performing arts spaces, bars and more. Comparisons are quickly being drawn to the modern college recruitment process. No longer is a good education (or, in this case, a nice apartment), enough to entice someone to a campus. Now customers (whether students or Boomers) are demanding additional services and opportunities as part of the package — pushing marketers into a war of amenities in both cases.
Marketing professionals specializing in Baby Boomers are being forced to adapt at an incredible speed. Where the tastes and desires of young people have always tasked marketers to change and adapt quickly, the Boomer/senior marketer has been slow to adapt, mirroring how its target demographic often reacts. However, Boomers and seniors are now becoming just as — if not more — demanding than their younger counterparts. How is your industry going to be impacted by the growing and changing tastes of the mature market?