Trends shaping 2010: Dang it, we’re getting old!

Seniors Back in December, I wrote about some of the trends that would be influencing all of our businesses in 2010.  I thought it might be helpful to look at some of these trends a bit more closely.

Let's dig into the trend that we've actually been anticipating for the past several years.  After all, we've known that the baby boomers are such a huge group — there's no way their crossing into the 65+ category wouldn't throw our society a curve.Look at these facts:

  • By 2020, people over 65 worldwide will outnumber children under the age of 5 for the first time.
  • By 2020, 22% of western civilization will be 65+.
  • The ratio of workers to retirees will continue to fall.  Today it’s 3:1.  By 2030, it will be just over 2:1.

So what does that mean for all of us?

Shifting away from our youth focus :

For so long, mass marketing has been all about the young.  As this trend takes hold, marketers are going to shift their attention to those boomers.  Remember, this group of seniors is tech savvy, active and has quite a bit of disposable income.  Even products that are typically designed for the youth market will be aimed at seniors, like motorbikes and technology.

Simplified, smarter products :

We've already seen companies like Jitterbug simplifying technology for a senior's physical limitations and that's just the beginning. Now, there's going to be a huge new market for smarter products that accommodate senior's needs. 

For example, there are canes and walkers being created with GPS technology built right in.  Wonder what will be next?

Subtle safety products:

This era of seniors isn't ready to slow down or think of themselves as elderly.  Most of them are still quite active and aren't going to see themselves as someone who  needs to be taken care of.   But let's face it, as we get older — we need a little assistance.

Ford and other car manufacturers are working on technology that can detect if the driver is getting drowsy (a major cause of car accidents with seniors behind the wheel).  As soon as the car senses the driver is not alert, it automatically lowers the temperature in the vehicle to wake up the driver.

Here's another one — Thermador is developing a stove top that automatically shuts off as soon as the pot is lifted off the burner.

New problems/opportunities brought on by the volume:

In the good old days, when someone got a little older, their family rallied around and took care of them.  But with families scattered across the land and with fewer offspring per family — many boomers are going to be on their own.

3 of the 10 industries with the fastest employment growth are tied to this trend.

  • Home healthcare
  • Elderly and disabled services
  • Community care facilities

There are also all kinds of senior concierge companies cropping up.  They'll do everything from take someone to the doctor and take notes, to putting up your Christmas decorations or running errands.

How can you take advantage of this?

That's the real question. As with all trends the question is not whether or not they're true but what we're going to do when they come to pass.  How can your business capitalize on what's coming?  How can you be come indispensable to this huge market?

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16 comments on “Trends shaping 2010: Dang it, we’re getting old!

  1. Karin H says:

    “By 2020, people over 65 worldwide will outnumber children under the age of 5 for the first time.”

    Don’t take me wrong, but 2020 is 10 years from now. We’ll only know this will be a fact on 31.12.2015 😉 (You never know, loads of power failures from 2015 on wards could have a different effect on this statistic after all).

    “Joking” aside, did you know that moving furniture on wooden floors is really easy? Easier than on carpet (now that won’t sell many floors in the USA, but here in the UK wall-to-wall carpet it still the top floor-covering). One of the benefits we keep promoting not only to our own customers but also to those renting out properties. Knowing which benefit of your product/service will serve this Golden Group – can’t say Grey any longer I think) should be a greater focus for more businesses IMHO.

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  2. Karin,

    Exactly — figuring out how to either position or modify your products to serve this version of the senior citizen will be critical to many businesses in the next few years.

    They are coming…in a larger number than we’ve ever seen before. And in terms of business, we don’t have very much time to get ready for them.


  3. Drew, As usual, your post sets me to thinking… I really think the senior concierge industry, if that’s even a correct descriptor, could be huge. While I would never, ever use the word senior in any title, identifier, etc, the types of services people in this line of work could be very desirable indeed.

  4. Jon says:

    I wonder what this will do to the property investment sector as well – we may even see an increase in demand for retirement type estates…

  5. This is an interesting post. It is always good to be alert on this figures to get prepared for what is going to come next.

    BTW, its good to see some experts already on their 65+ sharing opinions on Q&A.

  6. Peter,

    I think you make a good point. Just because someone says something is a trend, does not mean it will come to pass.

    But in this case — it’s hard to imagine, given the baby boomers existence and size, that all of this will not play out just the way it’s suggested.


  7. Jon,

    One would have to think it will have huge impact in that vertical — both in terms of the volume of inventory that moves (people downsizing, shifting into ranches/townhouses etc.) and the dollars spent.

    Who do you think could be the big winner in terms of capitalizing on this trend in the vertical?


  8. Steve —

    Excellent point. This is not a demographic that’s going to warm to the idea of being called a senior. But do you really have to put any sort of limiting descriptor on the service?

    Why not just promote the concierge business and let the seniors (or their kids in some cases) recognize that they’re the audience?


  9. Bob,

    No doubt — outsourcing has been a very hot and very viable trend as everyone tries to get a hold of their fixed costs.

    We’re certainly doing it at MMG.


  10. Drew, this is a critical topic related to the brain. As we age, the brain can remain voracious or it may lose the mental acuity you enjoy now. Brain science has taught us so much that we can prepare for this season and it’s not too soon to start now. ;-).

  11. Robyn,

    Okay — so how do we prepare? I can assure you…many have suggested that my mental acuity took a dive many years ago!

    So I need to you tell us ASAP!


  12. wendy says:

    I think you make a excellent point! your post sets me to thinking… I really think the senior concierge industry, if that’s even a correct descriptor, could be huge. While I would never, ever use the word senior in any title, identifier, etc, the types of services people in this line of work could be very desirable indeed. I’m a girl who likes tiffany and tiffany jewelry!
    You always have good info here. Please keep it up!

  13. Roberta Eastwood says:

    Baby Boomers are the fastest growing demographic in the United States. Businesses that tailor their marketing to appeal to the Boomers lifestyle, and those that offer products or services relevant to Boomers will be very competitive in future marketplaces. As long as marketers keep in mind that Boomers do not want to be viewed as elderly people that belong in nursing homes, but rather as active members of society with their own interests and passions, they will be able to successfully market their products and services to this demographic.

  14. Roberta —

    You are very right. This group does not see themselves sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs!


  15. Bailey Thompson says:

    Your company is very interesting and innovative from the looks of this site. I would love to discuss a job opportunity with you as a near graduate at Iowa State. I attempted to e-mail you but I do not have Microsoft Outlook configured on my computer. If you could shoot me an e-mail at, I can send you my resume.

    Thank you,
    Bailey Thompson

  16. Promo,

    Really, an Iowa State grad from Australia — tell me more.


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