TOP TREND: MID-YEAR UPDATE
2016 FORECAST: The potential in serving boomers, and especially boomers turning 70, is ripe with “Golden Opportunities,” intersecting with another Top Trend of 2016. While major retailers, Big Pharma and the Medical Industrial Complex will dominate market share and profitability, wide gaps are opening for entrepreneurs with good ideas, an open heart, community sensibilities and the business acumen to attack the opportunities, especially those outlined above.
As the Trends Journal described in its initial forecast, the comfortable lifestyle that many boomers had settled into morphed, for many, into a financially challenged retirement. The Panic of ’08 and the subsequent and yet-to-recover ruptures in the economy means aging boomers are working longer or having to return to the workforce.
According to a BlackRock survey this year, boomers ages 55–65 have saved $136,200 for retirement, sans any Social Security or pension income. That’s about $9,129 a year in retirement income. And older boomers, especially those turning 70 this year, are in even worse shape because their savings or 401K accounts were wiped out and their income streams dried up following the economic downturn.
Moreover, some are responsible for stay-at-home kids and grandkids who couldn’t find work. And others are combating the ills of aging.
Add rapidly rising health care costs to already debt-ridden boomers, and the classic portrait of easy living in the Golden Years is shattered.
NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM
As we wrote more than a year ago: “Of all the trends we forecast, aging with grace is a megatrend in the making that still lurks under the mainstream radar. Trends are born, they grow, mature, reach old age and die… a natural organic process. How to stay healthy, live longer — and most importantly, live with grace and dignity — is a trend still in its infancy.” (Trends Journal, Spring 2015.)
And as the Financial Times reported, aging boomers are playing a more substantial and growing role in fueling the US economy. “New projections from the labour statistics office show that the participation rate of the 65s and older will rise from 18.6 percent in 2014 to 21.7 percent in 2024.” (“Older citizens play growing role in US economy,” Financial Times, 11 December 2015.)
Whether by force or choice, the oldest boomers are redefining retirement — and aging.
In that same Financial Times article, Christine Acosta, a Florida entrepreneur who recalibrated her career direction in her 50s and started a cycling company, stated: “Retirement is beginning to look for a lot people like me like too much idle time.”
Acosta, according to the article, has no plans to ever retire. She’s not alone.
Whether borne out of necessity or personal choice, boomers and seniors are working well beyond traditional retirement years.
As Ontrendpreneurs™ realize this, major retailers and marketers still struggle to capture this group.
As our forecast for 2016 stated: “From entrepreneurs to big business, the field is wide open for new products, procedures and facilities for keeping the young at heart vibrant throughout old age. Whole-health healers will be in demand. Strenuous workouts and diet fads will increasingly be replaced by holistic health approaches. Whole-health healers will deliver all natural modalities, products and services as a foundation for enhanced longevity.” (Trends Monthly, December 2015.)
Businesses and service providers who target these true quality-of-life issues will find the gold.
At mid-year 2016, we’re seeing growing examples of this “young” trend. Among the cutting-edge trendsetters will be the boomers who revisit and redefine the adventuresome spirit they displayed in their youth.
Among the emerging opportunities will be the desire of many boomers to want to live in vibrant, urbanized and culturally rich communities. They want to be around activities and opportunities that give meaning and enjoyment to their lives. They want to travel more, learn more, experience more… and live more.
MY KIND OF TOWN
While European and Asian cities provide rich, historic settings for these opportunities, America isn’t as ideally suited. Nonetheless, small American cities like Providence, Rhode Island, Columbus, Ohio, Athens, Georgia, and Bellingham, Washington, are attracting older boomers who want to work, play and live in vibrant, active communities. Old, decaying manufacturing plants are being repurposed into living spaces shared by millennial hipsters, who increasingly are leaving for the confines of their tiny-home safe havens, and older boomers.
Educational travel, which we forecast would be especially enticing for this group, is another area building momentum. The New York Times, for instance, has launched a Times Journeys travel operation that arranges educational tours around the globe. This is one of numerous programs launched in the last year or two that attracts seniors.
Elsewhere, longevity centers and community-wellness groups featuring natural living and healing practices for aging adults are sprouting in the long shadow of the dominant medical industrial complex. These healing emporiums will continue to grow steadily.
And even health and fitness practitioners are beginning to develop products that stress enhancing quality of life above “coping with life.” Vigorous workout programs uniquely tailored for active, healthy-minded boomers are saturating the infomercial circuit where, just a year ago, they were barely noticed.
As the swell of population moves into their 60s and 70s, their aging bodies are being welcomed by Big Pharma and a corporate medical empire bombarding them with an endless menu of pharmaceutical and high-tech medical wonders. And the lion’s share of industries servicing this vast audience cater to that hunger. And, of course, Drugs ‘R’ Us will cash in the most. TJ