The Dollars and Sense of the Business of Aging

Posted by CC Andrews

Mar 16, 2018 5:08:19 PM

In 2014, L’Oreal made a bold move in the ever-youthful beauty industry. The cosmetics company launched a splashy new line of anti-aging products and hired Diane Keaton, then 68, as the spokeswoman. L’Oreal realized that older women were an underserved market with money to spend.

More companies are starting to realize that being age friendly isn’t just good business, it’s also good for business. Seniors are redefining the aging process

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and are forcing companies to rethink aging from both a customer and workforce perspective, according to “Turning Silver into Gold: The Business of Aging,” a report produced by the Milken Institute as part of the 2017 Summit on Business and the Future of Aging.

Seen by some as the world’s most compelling business opportunity, the 60-plus population will double to more than 2 billion by 2050. Seniors bring highly desired disposable income and growing needs as customers while offering experience, wisdom and institutional knowledge as employees. The fastest-growing demographic is unrivaled both by what it has—and has to offer. Now, it’s up to companies to realize the lucrative opportunity at their doorstep.

But to capture these emerging markets, businesses need to imagine a new future of aging. “How can we rewire, not retire? Reboot not retread? Turn recreation in to re-creation? The business sector can play a key role—and provide important leadership—in all of these areas,” notes Peter Mullin, chair of the M Center of Excellence, quoted in the report.

Businesses need to understand how today’s seniors differ from previous generations, and their willingness to learn can impact the bottom line. Older adults are a human capital resource pool that can contribute as entrepreneurs, employees, mentors and leaders. They can also train the next generation of workers, thereby helping to avoid a brain drain that would be detrimental to the economy.

The business community must embrace the undervalued and underutilized talents of older workers to realize “opportunities too compelling to ignore,” the report warns.

 

Spending power

Consider this: baby boomers account for half of all consumer packaged-goods dollars, but marketing tends to stop courting customers at the “cutoff” age of 49. “(But) older adults are “the most marketing friendly generation in U.S. history,” notes market research company Nielsen, quoted in the report. “They are healthy and growing, not broken and dying.”

 

Campaigns that target boomers are twice as likely to be successful as those targeting millennials, according to University of Michigan researchers. While younger generations are merely liking and sharing on social media, boomers are buying.

 

Other highlights from the Milken Institute report show the global power of the silver wallet:

 

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts project that by 2020, annual consumer spending by adults age 60+ globally will reach $15 trillion.
  • Americans age 50 and up account for $7.6 trillion in direct spending and related economic activity, a figure surpassing the gross domestic product of every nation except the United States and China. However, fewer than half of companies are taking global aging into account in their strategic planning.
  • In developed countries, the 60 and older demographic is projected to generate half of all urban consumption growth between 2015 and 2030, significantly fueled by health care spending, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.
  • In the United States, adults age 60 and older control 70 percent of disposable income.

 

Redefining retirement

Older adults want to continue living productive and meaningful lives. A growing number of workers are working well into retirement years and redefining retirement expectations.

Current trends suggest it will become increasingly unusual for retirees to leave the workforce altogether. That’s a boon to companies facing a brain drain as their most experienced and knowledgeable workers retire. And, recent research bolsters the argument for older workers by disproving the stereotype that productivity declines with age.

Older adults who remain working beyond age 55 are having significant and wide-ranging impacts on the U.S. workforce already, the Milken Institute report emphasizes:

  • Workers age 55 and older have driven nearly all the labor force growth in recent years, growing from the smallest to largest segment of U.S. labor.
  • By 2024, nearly 25 percent of American workers will be age 55+, up from just 12 percent in 1994.
  • Almost 9 million Americans age 65 or older are working, nearly twice the number of teens who work.
  • Even so, the overall U.S. labor force has declined in recent years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Without proper foresight and preparation, these two challenges will combine to create an unprecedented and potentially crippling talent crisis in the coming decade,” notes the Baxter Consulting Group, publisher of the 2017 “Managing the New Multi-Generational Workforce.”

 

 

The times are changing, and businesses have to change right along with them, the report urges. Embrace the promise and possibilities of an older workforce and develop policies and practices that reflect changing demographics for both customers and employees. Changes today will positively influence profits and position companies for a more diverse and prosperous longevity economy.

As Michael Hodin, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging, notes in the report, “We know that over half of workers report they want to work longer and differently, which tells us the megatrend of the aging of society is beginning to have huge impact on 21st century life. The question remains: are institutions of society, including employers, ready to deal with these transformative changes?”

If you want a focused approach to staying relevant in the longevity economy, facilitated by experts in the senior living field, contact Quantum Age today.

 

 

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Topics: older adults, 55+, longevity, Business

Telomeres, Mitochondria, and Healthy Longevity

Posted by CC Andrews

Dec 4, 2017 12:00:00 AM

Will you live to be 100? I am on the fence about wanting to live that long, unless I can be pretty sure I’ll be relatively healthy for the duration. Health span and longevity are the golden tickets in aging research, telomere.jpgaccording to a panel convened recently at the Milken Institute Global Conference.

Moderated by Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, the panel—made up of luminaries in geroscience research—gave the audience updates on recent promising studies. Among the most interesting—and slightly scary—research that is giving them reason to think that extending not only lifespan but also health span is within reach—and within a reasonable timeframe. It may not happen in the near future, but is definitely on the horizon.

From telomeres and mitochondria to senescent cells, mouse and primate studies have shown that umbilical cord blood extended the lives of mice, while Metformin, a diabetes drug that’s been around for a decades, has been shown to prevent the onset of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among other things.

According to Elizabeth Blackburn, Nobel Laureate and president of the Salk Institute, targeting and minimizing the “big killers of humanity” (the diseases that often come with aging) is the key to extending health span. “The conditions we die of, we really care about those, because these affect our health span,” she said.

The National Academy of Medicine is so committed to finding the key to extending the health span it has created an initiative around it. According to the group’s website, the Longevity Grand Challenge is aimed at inspiring and incubating “transformative ideas through challenge prizes and awards, expert guidance, a roadmap for policymakers and public engagement.”

So how does all this relate to aging services? There are obvious correlations, such as how much longer such breakthroughs will extend human lifespan and its impact on health care systems and housing, of course. It is worth noting, however, according to one scientist, when the time comes, humans will likely get about two additional years out of it. That century-long lifespan may still be reserved for those with the right genetics but the science and research seems to be inching closer to it.

While there are some very interesting discoveries that point to “hacking the aging code,” the panelists also made note of the fact that good old-fashioned exercise, diet, and genetics still play a large role in human longevity.

If you want a focused approach to figuring how health longevity affects your business— facilitated by experts in the senior living field—contact Quantum Age today.

 

 

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Topics: Aging, older adults, longevity, research

The Disease of Aging, Airbnb, and Products for Longevity

Posted by CC Andrews

Nov 17, 2017 12:00:00 AM

When the opening line of a panel discussion on aging and the longevity economy is something like this: “Every single person in this room over 25 suffers from a disease, and that disease is the disease of aging,” https___press.atairbnb.com_app_uploads_2017_01_airbnb_vertical_lockup_web copy.pngthose of us steeped in this field take notice. To begin, suggesting that the human condition of living is considered a disease is a bit provocative, if not ignorant. In addition, the moderator of said panel followed the introduction with, “eventually the disease of aging is going to kill us,” which I assume at this point was meant to be merely bombastic, especially since the panelists were thoughtful, engaging humans, all of whom were clearly living with this aging “disease.”

Convened by the Milken Institute, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit think tank, the purpose of the panel was to discuss aging and longevity and the impact these two issues will have on the global economy. The discussion included a diverse array of people who have either studied aging and longevity or have dabbled in it due to their work.

Among the most interesting of perspectives came from Chip Conley, strategic advisor for hospitality and leadership at Airbnb, where adults 50 years and older make up only about 6 percent of its employees, compared to 25 percent in the entire U.S. workforce.

Despite the depressingly small number of elders in the company, Conley, who joined Airbnb at the age of 52, believes that older workers and younger workers have much to gain from each other. “I have had the experience of being both a mentor and an intern at the same time,” he said, also noting that while the average age of company leaders is declining, “meaning power is moving younger, and these people who are getting a lot of power don’t have a lot of training, nor do they have a lot of people with gray hair around to give them advice.”

In an effort to address Airbnb’s workforce problem, Conley pointed to the “wise elder” who can help with “emotional intelligence and good thinking around strategy, and will not be a competitor to his younger colleague, who uses him as a sounding board.” One of the company’s solutions is to create an affinity group of employees 50 and older who can address the issues and have their voices heard. “Elders have proven to be helpful in creating better teams, better at helping them operate, and better at creating collegial and collaborative environments where teams works better,” he said.

Presented with a question about what products and services are being developed to cater to the genuine needs of elders, Joseph Coughlin, PhD, director of the MIT AgeLab, asserted that it’s not just about the needs of older adults, “because, as the saying goes in the auto industry, everyone knows that a young man will never buy an old man’s car and an older man or an older woman will run away from it as well.”

The idea, he says, is to create products that excite and delight. “The reason why older adults aren’t buying products that are made for older adults is not because [the consumers] are old and declining, it’s because we have yet to invent a longevity product that is worth buying,” he said. Others may disagree with this last statement, but I agree with his premise that there needs to be more products focused on exciting and delighting older consumers.

Circling back to Airbnb, Conley noted that there is a growing number of “digital nomads” who recognize that they can mix their work and their pleasure because they are armed with a mobile device, a laptop, and wifi connections. They live in Airbnbs and they travel the world while working, he says. What’s more, the fastest-growing group of Aribnb hosts is adults 50 years and older. The reason behind this is because many people who are over 50 own their own home, are empty nesters, have extra rooms in their homes, and want to add to their retirement income. Airbnb hosts also have the highest guest ratings.

These slices of information make me wonder if the folks over at Silvernest and others with similar home-share-for-Boomers business models have heard about this. Airbnb’s experience certainly seems to suggest that these housing alternatives are likely onto something.

The perspectives here were diverse and not the usual advice (others on the panel included a representative from AARP and the economist-author of “The 100-Year Life”). Watch the full discussion to get some newer perspectives on the longevity economy. It may stimulate some fresh thinking of your own.

If you want a focused approach to strategic decisions around navigating the longevity economy, facilitated by experts in the senior living field and candid feedback, contact Quantum Age today.

 

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Topics: Aging, Senior care, senior living, longevity

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