As time goes on, each generation transitions from being the young to the middle-aged, and finally, to the aging population. When each generation transitions to a different life stage, they bring their unique generational values and mindsets with them. The immense differences between all the generations that co-exist today have implications on how businesses and communities evolve as one generation enters the workforce and another exits. As discussed in my last two blog posts, I am hoping to engage you in a discussion around the impact of aging on business through a series of blog posts. This is the next post of the series, guided by the following question:
What are the biggest impacts that an aging population will have on business and community? What are the biggest challenges and opportunities of an aging economy?
First, how do we define aging? The categories that have typically defined aging are changing – the young-old and old-old. Is 70 the new 60? The new 50?
In my opinion, the cause of these changing categories is the rise in life expectancy. The effects of this rise, coupled with declining birth rates, will impact businesses from both the employee and service perspective.
As birth rates decline, there will eventually be a shortage in the work force. Additionally, many older adults are staying in the workforce longer than they have historically. It is important for businesses to keep in mind each generation’s values in order to cater to the range of people that will likely be working together.
· Workplace Preferences: Younger generations prefer flexibility to work remotely. For businesses that have typically run on strict shifts, can and will they adjust their business practices?
· Communication Styles: Baby boomers are more likely to pick up the phone to ask a question, while the next generations are more comfortable sending an email or text as their initial form of communication. How will businesses run effectively with employees that have different communication habits?
· Accommodating Aging Workers: As people continue to work until an older age, how does a business help elders stay in the workforce?
· Finding Value in All Generations: Is a business capitalizing on older workers’ gained knowledge? Is a business effectively utilizing young talent to bring in new ideas and a fresh set of eyes?
Although all businesses are impacted by aging, this is especially true for industries geared toward older consumers as this market continues to grow. It is important to account for the rise in the aging population in business’ marketing and business plans. In order to most effectively achieve this, the following considerations should be kept in mind.
· Appealing to Seniors: When marketing to seniors, does a business consider the preferences of seniors? How can a business make older consumers embrace and want new products, especially technology, that they are not accustomed to?
· Accessibility: It is important to make a business’ services or products as easily accessible as possible, especially for an older population. For example, if customers are going to a business’ physical location, is there convenient parking? Is it on the ground floor? Are there wide aisles for walkers? For businesses that only provide products, can they be delivered?
· Marketing Techniques: How is a business marketing to seniors? Although much of marketing now takes place online and through social media, businesses should understand seniors’ relationship with technology when developing digital elder care marketing campaigns.
· Senior Market Segmentation: There are different groups within the aging population that will respond differently to certain marketing tactics. Businesses should consider which sect of the senior market they are targeting. What is the spending power of their senior customers? Are they on a very fixed income, have large pensions or big bank accounts?
· Keeping up with Demand: As the aging population grows – 21 percent of Americans will be over 65 by 2050 – how is an elder-focused business preparing to serve the increased demand?
If handled correctly, aging will provide many businesses with strong growth opportunities. Businesses can prepare for this increase in older consumers by adequately adjusting marketing plans and making sure the business is senior friendly. The key to taking advantage of shifting generational demographics is moving with the times and being prepared.
For more information about how to plan to market to seniors, contact Focus on Aging.