As a marketer by background, I’ve been used to segmenting age groups by decade. Having just hit the magic age of 50, I’ve started to wonder what happens when I reach the marketers’ final segment of 65+.  Will I be officially old then and no longer a mainstream consumer with spending power, choice and aspirations?

It was something we discussed at the Agile Ageing Roadshow in Brussels last week. This was a great gathering of Europeans in the digital, design, health, housing and ageing sectors determined to change the conversation from doom and gloom to “What if?” A group of disruptive innovators who are no longer willing to blame the ‘system’ for failure to address the policy needs of the future. Leaders who want to collaborate across the world to rethink older age and radically change the opportunities for older people everywhere.

We looked at the evidence in terms of opportunity rather than overwhelming challenge. Over 60s are the fastest-growing population group in the developed world. By 2030 there will be upwards of 222m. And due to house price inflation and generous pensions, older consumers are the richest with spending power of $4 trillion a year currently. Yet less than 15% of organisations have developed a business strategy to address this market.

Come on marketers…what are you doing? Sixty-five year olds are not the same as 85-year olds.

Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel – business woman, interior designer and fashion icon

If you talk to anyone over 60, they see older people as being at least ten-years older than them. In fact, many have a similar attitude to their 25-year old selves – with more life experience.

What do we need to do to change this situation?  Well, we can stop treating older people as “old” for one thing.

Why are we so reluctant to design products and services that the Boomer generation will actively choose? Is it because designers and marketers are often young and don’t believe they’ll ever get old?

The retirement industry is beginning to take note but it still seems to want to provide solutions for problems not for lifestyles. The next generation of older people have spent their lives making noise and creating new ways of doing things. We’re the original radicals and revolutionaries, not prepared to accept what’s on offer.

So, as we agreed in Brussels, let’s change the language we use from today. Let’s capitalise on the emerging consumer boom and reject the outdated, institutionalised approach to old age.

I’m going to be disruptive at 50, 60, 70 and as long as I’m still breathing. I look forward to collaborating with likeminded disrupters and risk-takers across the world to make our older age something we really look forward to.

Sara

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Sara McKee, Evermore Founder and Director of Market Innovation

Follow Sara on Twitter @SaraMcKeeFRSA