The Longevity Economy: A Very Real Opportunity for Business

10/05/2016 11:41 am ET Updated Oct 26, 2016
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If you’re a business owner and haven’t taken your place in the Longevity Economy, you’re missing out on a piece of a $7 trillion dollar pie.

If you think you know what the Longevity Economy is and you’ve said, “That’s not for me,” because you don’t serve the senior market … then, this is your wake-up call.

There have been many people and organizations over the last few years that have described how it’s going to change the business landscape, and the way business owners deliver products and services. We’ve seen new services, products and apps pop up regularly that are focused on the more “mature” customer. (Ahem … Baby Boomers.)

And, if those aren’t your business, then this article is for you.

You see, this article is not about starting or running a company that already focuses on serving those customers. Rather, how an existing company, regardless of your services or for whom you think those services are for, can secure a position in the Longevity Economy.

The Longevity Economy in brief

Let’s do a quick refresher, first. According to a paper published by Oxford Economics and AARP in 2013:

“[The] Longevity Economy, representing the sum of all economic activity serving the needs of Americans over 50 and including both the products and services they purchase directly and the further economic activity this spending generates.

- Oxford Economics/AARP

According to the same report, the over-50 group:

  • Represented 51% of the over 25 population. That’s projected to pass 54% by 2032.
  • Controlled 80% of U.S. aggregate net worth
  • Dominated spending in 119 of 123 consumer packaged goods segments
  • Their economic activity was bigger than every country’s economy, except the U.S. and China
  • Made up almost half of the U.S. economy (46%)
  • Was responsible for 47% of federal taxes and 56% of state and local taxes
  • Provided employment for 100 million Americans

All told, we’re looking at this economic activity reaching $13.5 trillion by 2032. I could go on, but you those figures tell enough; this is a group of powerhouse consumers.

What does that have to do with you?

You might say that you aren’t in the business of serving these customers. Or, maybe more likely, that they aren’t your target market. That may be true. But, my question to you is ...

Why not?

According to Karen Sands, GeroFuturist, Speaker and Author of The Ageless Way, “This is the most incredible gold mine of opportunity for everyone. Because, anything that we create, innovate or serve to the 50+ market is going to affect everybody. It's going to be used across generations. The opportunity is enormous.”

From a sheer numbers perspective, there is no group of consumers better to serve in terms of spending power. More spending power means more revenue opportunity for your company.

Since it is such a valuable market, it also presents you the opportunity to build long-term revenue. By crafting great customer experiences, you can build a following of dedicated customers. Of course, that will be determined by your ability to effectively reach and serve these 50+ customers.

Also, it bears mentioning one other benefit: social impact.

As people move through their 60’s, 70’s and beyond, their needs will change. Your company’s ability to serve them through these years can have a tangible effect on their ability to keep building meaningful lives for themselves. (Not to mention, lessen the burden on their families and the community at large.)

Continued patronage and needs met. That’s a win.

This is the most incredible gold mine of opportunity for everyone. Because, anything that we create, innovate or serve to the 50+ market is going to affect everybody. It's going to be used across generations. The opportunity is enormous. ~ Karen Sands, GeroFuturist, Speaker, Author of “The Ageless Way”

Companies already making this move

Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at two companies that have taken this leap to better reach and serve this group of customers. Neither of these are companies that were created to serve the 50+ customer, specifically.


Recently in the news we saw where 7-Eleven in Japan has adapted to serving older customers by becoming a “hub” in the communities they serve. They offer a variety of services you might expect in a local chain, including making copies or paying utility bills.

Yet, in an effort to specifically reach people over 65, they have begun offering food that is healthier and increased the number of day-to-day items, such as toilet paper, light bulbs and others.

7-Eleven also is offering food delivery service for older customers through a partnership with Toyota. As well as, providing areas of the store where people can sit and socialize in some locations.

Home Depot

In October of 2015, Home Depot announced they would switch focus from helping the Boomers who wanted to do DIY home projects, to supporting the local contractors that are doing the work for those Boomer customers.

The reason? The Boomers have been core customers for Home Depot for decades. But, now these customers are more interested in do-it-for-me than DIY.

To accomplish this, Home Depot is beefing up its level of service to local contractors, making it easier for them to get what they need so they can better serve the Boomer customers in the community.

The 6 step process to get you moving

For many companies, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to come up with new or additional products or services to serve 50+ customers. (Although, you certainly can.) It is more about bringing your company, products, services and processes alongside those customers so you can reach and serve them more effectively.

What I’ve discovered through my work with these customers and the businesses that serve them is that there is a 6 step process you have to go through to work your way into this market.

Alignment - Have a good look at what you offer (products, services), how you provide it (processes, customer experience), and how these customers learn about what you do (marketing, outreach).

Through this effort you also may discover “holes” in the local 50+ market that can be an additional opportunity for you.

Adapting - Identify key opportunities; places where customers and what you already offer can align. Then, you build an action plan to adapt your existing business to achieve that alignment.

Refocusing - Get yourself and your organization refocused on achieving these new milestones and goals. Decide on any changes in your processes so you can maximize your customer’s experience with your business.

Execution - Take small, manageable steps, and begin doing the work. Make sure you are using your new processes to surprise and delight your new customers.

Measurement - Evaluate the outcome of your effort so you can understand how your changes affect your business.

Adjustment - Decide on and make any adjustments to improve results. Or, if the results are not satisfactory, choose a new approach or goal.

The opportunity of a lifetime is within reach

The 50+ market represents the biggest opportunity that has ever existed for business owners across the nation. This a chance for you to grow your company, earn more income and provide a greater level of service to your communities.

The only question is, what will you do about it?

Want to learn more? Just go here. You can also connect with me on Twitter & LinkedIn

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The Longevity Economy: Generating economic growth and new opportunities for business, Oxford Economics/AARP, October 2013

Karen Sands, Longevity Economy thought leader, GeroFuturist, Speaker, Author

How 7-Elevens Are Becoming Lifelines for Japan's Elderly, CityLab, August 2016

7-Eleven Japan expands home delivery to ageing population, Insight, Global Convenience Store Focus, July 3013

Home Depot looks to adapt for baby boomers who aren’t so into ‘do-it-yourself’ anymore, Washington Post, December 2015

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